Arsenal defender Rob Holding signed a new deal on Monday, extending his contract until 2022, and says he’s desperate for more experience to finally earn a place in the first-team. He’s been on the periphery in his two years at the Emirates but may be given more playing time next season.
“I’m happy to sign for an extra two years. It gives me a bit of time to get more experience and build a place in the team. Why would you want to go somewhere else? You’re at Arsenal, you want to make it there. Other clubs, you’re not interested in. You want to make it at Arsenal,” he said, reports the Standard.
The 22-year-old has struggled to nail down a starting place, with manager Arsene Wenger preferring Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi at the heart of his defence, but Holding’s new deal suggests the club are confident he can become a regular in the future.
— Rob Holding (@RobHolding95) May 1, 2018
Signed from Bolton Wanderers in 2016, the England u21 international has gone on to make 42 appearances in all competitions. He’s found game time hard to come by but could be an internal solution as Arsenal could be losing a number of senior players this summer and next year.
Per Mertesacker is retiring at the end of the season to become Head of Academy and isn’t likely to play much football in Arsenal’s remaining games after admitting his anxiety before stepping out onto the pitch. Laurent Koscielny has been struggling with a chronic achilles injury and hasn’t been able to play three games in a week anymore.
Nacho Monreal has operated as a makeshift centre-back for the majority of the season, but the 32-year-old is out of contract in 12 months and may not be offered a new deal. Shkodran Mustafi has an uncertain future as he’s struggled for consistency since joining Arsenal from Valencia in 2016 and tried to leave last summer.
Arsenal could be left with Calum Chambers, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Holding, all of whom have hardly played this season, racking up just 1522 minutes of Premier League football (17 games) combined. Holding has only managed seven league starts and has been reintroduced only to allow first-team players a rest for the Europa League.
The young centre-back has been left out of the matchday squad on 19 occasions and was reportedly suffering from a lack of confidence at the start of the season. Holding’s new deal has been met with a lot of positivity from supporters, but there’s no real guarantee he will be a mainstay at the club given what he’s shown so far.
He nearly left the club on loan in January as a result of the lack of playing time which highlights how far down the pecking order he’s been. Holding has made more appearances for the reserves in the Premier League 2 (30) than in the Premier League (19) since moving from Bolton and will turn 23 in September.
Chambers is 23 and has barely progressed under Arsene Wenger since joining the club from Southampton in 2014 and only gets played when the first-team are being rested. Holding should be wary of following in his footsteps after signing a new deal. Or will he become an important player?