Rob Holding

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Rob Holding of Arsenal FC looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal FC U23s and Chelsea FC U23s at Meadow Park on February 17, 2020 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Rob Holding factfile

  • Full name: Robert Samuel Holding
  • DOB: 20 September 1995
  • Nationality: English
  • Position: Centre-back
  • Secondary position: Right-back
  • Foot: Right
  • Height: 1.89m/6ft2″
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  • Signed for Arsenal: 22 July 2016 from Bolton
  • Signed by: Arsene Wenger
  • Sold by: Phil Parkinson
  • Fee: £.27m
  • Current value: £10.8m
  • Contract until: 2024 (with option until 2025)
  • Date of last contract renewal: 12 January 2021
  • Sportswear outfitter: Nike
  • Agent: Stellar Football

Rob Holding’s first season at Arsenal

Rob Holding emerged as one of Arsenal’s most exciting prospects when he arrived in the 2016/17 season.

Rob Holding
Arsenal defender Rob Holding looks on.

To say that the signing of Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers for a modest fee of £2.5m was underwhelming would be putting it mildly. In yet another summer in which Arsenal were under pressure to spend big, the signing of a 20-year-old fresh off a relegation to League 1 did little to excite fans.

Fast forward to the end of his first season and Holding had his own chant amongst the supporters and was regarded a very good piece of business.

Once he arrived, Holding was thrown right into the deep end when a lack of available first team centre backs meant he made his debut against Liverpool on the opening day of the season. Along with partner Calum Chambers, he endured a torrid afternoon against an inspired Liverpool attack that raced into a 4-1 lead in no time.

Holding had a much steadier performance in the 0-0 draw away to Leicester the following week, one which Arsene Wenger was full of praise for. In a post-match press conference where the focus was on the lack of Arsenal signings, he said: “Nobody speaks about the performance of Rob Holding today – he is English, he is 20 years old, you should be happy. But I am sorry he didn’t cost £55m so it cannot be good.”

Holding would play again in the 3-1 win over Watford but he then didn’t make another league start until April.

For the majority of the season, Holding was limited to appearances in the EFL Cup and FA Cup. Against lower league opposition, the Englishman was composed and confident. The initial fears that he would struggle with more ball-playing responsibility than he would have had at Bolton were unfounded.

Rob Holding wanted to go on loan

Rob Holding FA Cup final
Rob Holding FA Cup final

Holding reportedly want to leave on loan in January 2017, but was convinced by Wenger to stay and be ready to step-in in case of injuries to Koscielny, Mustafi or Gabriel (the first one). It turned out to be a wise decision, as a drastic change in circumstances gave Holding more opportunities to play.

On April 17, against Middlesbrough on a Monday night, Arsenal switch to a back three. With Mertesacker still out and Mustafi nursing an injury, Holding played as a left sided centre back. He looked a natural in the system, ably covering Monreal and competing in the air against Boro’s tall forwards.

Holding went on start the final seven games of Arsenal’s season, including the FA Cup semi-final and final. Despite the high-pressure stakes at the time, he wasn’t flustered. He defended smartly, being physical without being reckless. His tough play against Stoke’s Marko Anautovic was a particular highlight.

More impressively, he showed great confidence on the ball by always being willing to take it forward and pass out of defence. He seems to have a cool temperament, as shown by his refusal to be intimidated by Diego Costa in the cup final.

Arsenal's English defender Rob Holding (L) clashes with Liverpool's Senegalese striker Sadio Mane during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 15, 2020. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s English defender Rob Holding (L) clashes with Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 15, 2020. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS / POOL / AFP)
via @Arsenal
via @Arsenal

Rob Holding has signed a new contract at Arsenal tying him to the club until 2024 with the option of another year.

12 January 2021

Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal Premier League Arsenal s Rob Holding during the Premier League match at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove Copyright: Daniel Hambury
Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal Premier League Arsenal s Rob Holding during the Premier League match at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove Copyright: Daniel Hambury

This summer, Rob Holding would have entered the final two years of his Arsenal deal, which is when you usually want to sell or extend. Given how regularly he’s featuring for the side right now, Mikel Arteta was clearly keen to avoid a departure.

Recently, David Ornstein reported for The Athletic that Holding had already extended his contract with Arsenal. Despite loan exit rumours over the summer, Arteta was never keen on losing the centre-back, viewing him as an important part of the club’s future.

Arsenal have now confirmed this new contract. They announced. “Rob Holding has signed a new long-term contract with us, running until 2024 with an option for a further year.”

Edu added: “We are very happy to have signed Rob on a new contract extension. He is 25 years old, so is still coming into the peak of his career, and we are delighted that he’ll be with us during these important years. Rob has shown great quality and maturity on and off the pitch in recent months and is developing well. We are looking forward to Rob continuing his progression in the years to come.”

More than Holding’s on-field contributions, it’s just good business.

Holding is a homegrown player, one of very few in the Arsenal squad right now. He joins Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles – that’s it.

Of course, Arsenal have a whole host of u21s who will age up into the homegrown spots. But for most of them, that’s still at least a year or two away.

As a result, Holding’s extension does nothing to stop Arsenal signing non-homegrown players, and the club have no concerns over running out of homegrown places either. The 25-year-old’s contract extension won’t affect any potential defensive incomings.

Whilst most Arsenal fans are in support of the club letting Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos run their contracts down and leave, that can’t be the only way they do business.

If you never make any defensive sales, you’ll struggle to afford the players you do want. If you don’t have players on long contracts, transfer negotiations become very difficult.

So, when you have a homegrown starting centre-back, he should be on a long-term deal. It looks like Holding now is.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Rob Holding of Arsenal and Diego Costa of Chelsea argue with referee Anthony Taylor during The Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 27: Rob Holding of Arsenal and Diego Costa of Chelsea argue with referee Anthony Taylor during The Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Arsene Wenger (R), manager of Arsenal FC and Mikel Arteta address the media during a press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of sixteen second leg match against FC Bayern Muenchen at Allianz Arena on March 10, 2014 in Munich, Germany.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal speaks with Rob Holding of Arsenal following the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on September 19, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Will Oliver - Pool/Getty Images)

25yo Arsenal star explains why he wanted to leave in the summer

Rob Holding has explained why he initially wanted to leave Arsenal on loan this summer before Mikel Arteta convinced him to stay.
Rob Holding of Arsenal wearing the captains armband during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Picture date: 19th December 2020. Picture: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

It’s just good business: Arsenal confirm Rob Holding contract

Rob Holding has signed a new contract at Arsenal tying him to the club until 2024 with the option of another year.
Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal Premier League Arsenal s Rob Holding during the Premier League match at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove Copyright: Daniel Hambury

New deal expected for Arsenal 25-year-old amid Arteta praise

Rob Holding is expected to sign a new long-term deal with Arsenal before the end of the season, with Mikel Arteta impressed by the defender's progress.
Rob Holding of Arsenal wearing the captains armband during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Picture date: 19th December 2020. Picture: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

25-year-old close to new Arsenal deal closing door on January move

Rob Holding is reportedly close to a new deal with Arsenal according to a report in The Telegraph [£].

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

13 January 2021

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.

Mikel Arteta says he told Rob Holding he wasn’t going anywhere last summer, so he should change his mind and focus on Arsenal.

13 January 2021

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 on August 29, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Couldridge/Pool via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta made the decision to keep Rob Holding over the last few weeks, despite speculation about a possible loan departure to Newcastle United.

Originally, the plan was for Holding to join up with Newcastle after the Community Shield. However, Arteta decided against it, choosing to keep the centre-back around for the coming season.

“I said to him ‘change your mind because you’re not going anywhere’,” Arteta said. “Rob is another who stands for every value we want at the football club.

“He had a really difficult time but he trained and why would I have to let him go? He’s already playing, what more do you want?”

I think it’s difficult to argue injuries didn’t play a part. Over the last couple of weeks, both Sokratis and David Luiz joined Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari on the injury list.

That leaves Arsenal with three fit full-time centre-backs, Gabriel, William Saliba and Rob Holding. With Arteta easing Saliba in slowly, that number realistically drops to two. Kieran Tierney is filling in, but there clearly wasn’t much cover if Holding left.

Whatever the reason, it seems like they’ve made the decision now. Holding will remain at the club and continue starting for Arsenal in the immediate future.

Rob Holding made the BBC Team of the Week for the latest round of fixtures, after his impressive display against Liverpool on Wednesday.

18 July 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Rob Holding of Arsenal is challenged by Sadio Mane of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on July 15, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Paul Childs/Pool via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Rob Holding challenges Sadio Mane during the Premier League match on July 15, 2020. (Photo by Paul Childs/Pool via Getty Images)

The BBC’s Garth Crooks named Rob Holding in his Team of the Week after Wednesday’s win. He wrote that despite Sadio Mane seeming to get the better of the centre-back at first, Holding came out on top in the end.

Crooks added that “with a run of games he (Holding) might find himself a permanent feature in the Arsenal defensive line-up”.

Holding’s performance really was all about his individual battle with Mane. Though the defender had other players to worry about at times, the Liverpool winger was the away side’s main threat and they contested a number of duels.

The Arsenal centre-back seems to thrive on those kinds of contests, though. Everyone remembers his mind games with Diego Costa, and it was the same sort of thing against Mane.

As long as you keep your own focus in the key moments, it’s rarely a bad thing to unsettle an opponent.

Arsenal fans can probably justifiably wonder why a few of their other players didn’t make the team.

Emi Martinez was fantastic in goal and definitely made the save of the weekend. Kieran Tierney performed as well as Holding, out of position at centre-back. Alexandre Lacazette was clinical and followed the gameplan perfectly. But we’ll take what we can get.

Rob Holding praised ‘one of a kind’ Hector Bellerin, and he says the right-back’s help made his recovery from injury much easier.

20 October 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Rob Holding of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team’s second goal of the game during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forrest at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin have recently returned to the pitch after respective absences of over eight months from competitive first-team football. The duo both had to undergo ACL surgery in late 2018/early 2019, and for a large part of the process, they’ve recovered and rehabilitated together.

Their returns to the senior action have gone well so far, with Bellerin making one start and one substitute appearance, providing an assist against Nottingham Forest. Holding has played 90 minutes in two matches, scoring in that same Forest game.

Speaking in a Reddit AMA, Holding didn’t hold back in his praise for his teammate.

“Hector is one of a kind and you have to love him for that,” Holding wrote. “He stands up for what he believes in and you can’t argue with that. He’s a great teammate and a great human being who is fighting for change.

“Me and Hector have been on a long journey, and being able to do it together has made the process easier. [We] could compare how our knees were feeling and what reaction we would get from our rehab.

“This helped put our minds at ease if the other person had had similar experiences.”

Photo via Instagram / HectorBellerin
Photo via Instagram / HectorBellerin

It’s not exactly a surprise to hear positive comments about Bellerin’s character from a member of the Arsenal squad. After all, the Spaniard’s teammates have just voted him into the club captaincy, taking the third position in the captain hierarchy.

At 24 years old with just under four years left on his current Arsenal contract, it seems pretty likely Bellerin will end up pulling on the armband as the number one captain sooner or later. His club colleagues certainly all seem happy to have him around.