Rob Holding has explained why he initially wanted to leave Arsenal on loan this summer before Mikel Arteta convinced him to stay.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Sadio Mane of Liverpool battles for possession with Rob Holding of Arsenal during the FA Community Shield final between Arsenal and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on August 29, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Couldridge/Pool via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Sadio Mane of Liverpool battles for possession with Rob Holding of Arsenal on August 29, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Couldridge/Pool via Getty Images)

Rob Holding’s Arsenal career has made quite the turnaround in the last five months. Back in August, Holding was strongly linked with a loan move to Newcastle United, but he ended up sticking around and making 18 appearances in the first half of the season.

After nailing down a spot in the team under Mikel Arteta, Holding signed a contract extension with Arsenal on Tuesday. He’s come a long way in such a short time.

Recalling that period where he almost left the club, Holding confirmed the loan rumours were genuine and the move was what Arsenal wanted for him – until Arteta changed his mind.

“At 25, I have to focus on playing. I spoke to the manager and said there was a loan opportunity that had come up, that I needed football,” Holding admitted. “It was all agreed, and the club thought it would be the best move for me.

“But in the week before the Community Shield against Liverpool, the boss pulled me aside and said he wanted to check that I was focused for the weekend because I was needed.

“I told him that, wherever I am, I will always play my hardest and put 100 percent in.

“I played the game, we did well and we won. And then on the Monday, he called me into his office. He said it made no sense to let me go if my end goal was to play here. He was saying I was going to play, that it was my shirt to lose.

“That was the confidence he put in me. I had a chance then to prove myself, to say to myself: ‘right, if I am going to stay, I am going to play and I am going to try to be the best player.’”

Full credit to him, it’s working out so far. Considering he had to recover from an ACL injury not too long ago, Holding’s done really well to be a regular in the Premier League’s fourth-best defence by goals conceded.

Another clean sheet on Thursday would be a great way to celebrate the new contract.