In every transfer window, there are some deals that remain constantly overshadowed by the more popular and sort after movement of footballing stars across Europe. Arsenal, not surprisingly are working on one such deal.
Bolton’s star defender and youngster Rob Holding, who was linked Arsenal a few weeks ago, may become Arsenal’s second signing after Granit Xhaka, according to David Wright’s report for ‘The Express’, is closing in on a move to the Emirates.
The England under-21 International was voted Bolton’s player of the year in a season that has seen the club relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1993.
Holding, 20, has undoubtedly been a rare spark and a saving grace in the midst of an absolutely abysmal campaign for Bolton, impressing several Premier League teams with his composure and skill at the heart of defense, especially at such a young age. Everton, Tottenham and Celtic have all been linked with a defender, but it seems that Holding would prefer a move to Arsenal.
Arsenal have previously had a bid up to £750,000 rejected by Bolton, but it seems now that the two clubs have agreed a fee for the player. Holding made 30 appearances for The Trotters in the 2015-16 campaign.
If Holding does end up signing for Arsenal it is likely that he will not be used as an immediate starter, or find himself play week in and week out due to the presence of older and more experienced central defenders with Champion’s League and international experience, unless his talent in the English top tier turns out to be par excellence and rare.
His arrival would, in a very direct way, impact the places of Calum Chambers and Isaac Hayden in Arsenal’s first team, of which the latter is on loan to Hull City.
While Chambers, the most expensive defender ever signed by Arsene Wenger, is versatile and can play at the heart of defense, right back and in midfield, Hayden has featured for the Gunners very briefly in central midfield in the Capital One Cup 2 seasons ago.
While Chambers is by some distance a more regular member of the first team than Hayden the fact is that they are both the same age as Holding and the only two who could possibly find themselves to be direct competitors with the youngster.
The possible arrival of Holding has not go down well with some fans of Arsenal. The consensus in the context of defensive reinforcements seems to be that Arsenal need a much more experienced and quality central defender who can compete most directly with Laurent Koscielny, for Per Mertesacker, is no longer a 38 games a season man, while Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista has previously not combined well with Koscielny and evidently needs more time to settle in.
Andrew Dowdeswell of ‘Pain in the Arsenal’ seems particularly disapproving of the Holding transfer. While Dowdeswell has not raised questions about the youngster’s talent, he argues that Holding may be a player ‘in the same ‘mould’ as Calum Chambers and a deal for him is not one of ‘benefit’ for the next year.
There is no guarantee that Wenger will not go in for a more senior and top quality central defender, regardless of whether the Holding deal goes through. Whether Wenger signs two defenders, only time will tell.