Defender has uncertain future at Arsenal, writing on wall after £52.6m decision [Opinion]

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium by Ank kumar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Rob Holding signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Arsenal on January 2021 and had the option to extend it for a further 12 months as reward for his form during the first-half of the 2020/21 season.

Fast-forward a year, however, and Holding no longer holds down a starting place and seems surplus to requirements under Mikel Arteta who previously showed such faith in him.

Arsenal’s decision to sign Ben White on a five-year deal from Brighton & Hove Albion for £52.6m last summer has resulted in Holding being dropped, and he may be considering his future at the Emirates Stadium if there’s no way back in the side.

The 26-year-old joined Arsenal from Bolton Wanderers in 2016 and has gone on to make 132 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals. Holding has featured in only 15/37 games this season, however, amassing 929 minutes of football from a possible 3330.

He started in two of Arsenal’s first three Premier League games of the campaign but was dropped after their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea and 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in August.

Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers were also given early runs out before being dropped, and both were eventually moved on in January. Holding was linked with a move in the winter transfer window but stayed in North London. He may follow Mari and Chambers through the exit door if he isn’t given assurances, however.

Arteta has preferred White and Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back and the pair have played their part in Arsenal suffering only two defeats in their last 13 league games, so it’s hard to see Holding returning.


The Gunners have kept two clean sheets in their previous three matches and look odds-on to finish in a Champions League place, so the 26-year-old has a difficult task to break that formidable partnership.

It might benefit all parties if Holding moves on in the coming months as he needs regular football for the sake of his development.