Arsenal centre-back Rob Holding signed a new long-term deal with the North London giants yesterday, and it is a testament to the impressive campaign he has had so far in 2020-21.
The 25-year-old was on the verge of joining Newcastle United on loan in the summer after the Gunners had signed Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari.
William Saliba was also back from a season-long loan, and Arsenal were starting the season with eight central defenders.
The Magpies were leading the race to sign Holding and, despite the fact that he featured in the Community Shield game against Liverpool, he was expected to complete a move to St. James’ Park afterwards.
However, the move fell through and the former Bolton Wanderers defender has revealed that he was close to joining Newcastle on loan for the season.
“It was all agreed, and the club thought it would be the best move for me,” Holding told The Telegraph.
“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 per cent in.”
Holding has since started 13 games out of Arsenal’s 17 Premier League games this term, coming off the bench once and featuring three times in other competitions.
He has bounced back from the serious knee injury he suffered in December 2018 and is now a mainstay in manager Mikel Arteta’s starting XI.
Joining Newcastle temporarily was meant to help offer him regular playing opportunities, but that might not have happened given the number of central defensive options available to head coach Steve Bruce at SJP.
Failure to play regularly at Newcastle would have been frustrating for Holding had the loan deal happened, and that could have put his Arsenal future in huge doubt.
Arteta’s show of faith in him is beginning to yield dividends, and the £2 million signing is starting to see his value skyrocket.
Holding will now look to force his way into the plans of England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of this summer’s European Championships, and successfully doing that will be a huge achievement for the Arsenal man.