Exclusive Rob Holding interview: Arsenal defender on his new contract, almost leaving and Oasis renditions at 2am – The Telegraph

Exclusive Rob Holding interview: Arsenal defender on his new contract, almost leaving and Oasis renditions at 2am – The Telegraph

The contract, which ties him to the club until at least 2024, is also proof of how quickly things can change in football. Only a few months ago, at the start of this season, Holding was on the verge of joining Newcastle United on loan. Arsenal had signed centre-backs Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari in the transfer window, and had welcomed William Saliba back from France. They started the season with eight central defenders.

“We signed two centre-halves over the summer and I was thinking, ‘am I even going to be involved in this?’” Holding tells Telegraph Sport. “At 25, I have to focus on playing. I spoke to the manager and said there was a loan opportunity that had come up, that I needed football. After my injury [a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in December 2018] I needed a year to play.

“It was all agreed, and the club thought it would be the best move for me. 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.

“I played the game, we did well and we won. And then on the Monday, he called me into his office. He said it made no sense to let me go if my end goal was to play here. He was saying I was going to play, that it was my shirt to lose. That was the confidence he put in me. I had a chance then to prove myself, to say to myself: ‘right, if I am going to stay, I am going to play and I am going to try to be the best player.’”

Holding has since started 13 games in the league, including 10 of the last 11, and is arguably more established now than at any point since his move from Bolton Wanderers in 2016, for a fee of just £2 million. “Knowing you are in the fold for games, it gives you that push,” he says.