With the EUROs now over it is time to focus on pre-season, which also happens to be at the same time as the silly season. You’ve pulled the wool over our eyes once again with the signing of Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers. The medical was done overnight and it looks like an announcement will be made shortly. The trouble is, most us don’t know who he is. Who is Rob Holding?
Rob Holding is an England under 21 international who was Bolton Wanderers’ player of the season last season. He is highly rated, with several Premier League clubs having scouted him, I’m glad we were the ones who got him for a bargain £2m. With 26 appearances in the Championship last season, 19 as a centre back and 7 as a right back. On the surface it looks like a sound investment, he could turn out to be one of England (and Arsenal’s) greats in the future, and if not, the price tag isn’t too big to justify the gamble.
I know our central defensive stocks are quite full, we do have Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel and Chambers as it is, but this young guy will be motivated and at the very least push the others to lift to another level. Competition in a squad is never a bad thing and with Debuchy more than likely leaving we do need depth in the right back position as well.
While it would be wonderful to have a world class signing, let’s be realistic, defenders like that are hard to come by, and usually aren’t for sale. Furthermore, for somebody like Gabriel, who’s been waiting in the wings, Holding provides enough pressure for him to step up, without demotivating him, if we were to sign somebody like Varane or Hummels. There are positives and negative perspectives to this signing, but being realistic about the situation I think it is a good move.
Despite being only 20 years old, Holding has shown maturity beyond his years. For a young defender it is usually their tackling and aerial ability that is evident early on in their career. Interception of the ball, blocking the ball off of defenders and generally being able to read the game comes with experience and maturity later on in their career. What makes Holding special is that his strengths are his ability to intercept the ball and block shots. If he can keep this up, the other aspects to his game will improve over time and I have no doubt he will be a quality defender for us.
Another aspect about Holding is that he does like to play the ball out of defence and dribble. He does not do this carelessly of course, but with the way Arsenal plays this sort of proactive approach of turning defence into attack is crucial to the success of the style we play. He is also incredibly passionate constantly talking to, directing, and consoling his much older centre back partner as soon as he was made first choice centre back.
Holding may still be a raw talent but he is calm on the ball and already looks like he knows what he’s doing, and will be a valuable addition to the squad.
Good signing Arsene, now can be please please please sign that striker?
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