Rob Holding deal shows how Arsenal are adapting after Folarin Balogun transfer mistake – Football.London

Rob Holding deal shows how Arsenal are adapting after Folarin Balogun transfer mistake – Football.London

On the eve of this season it seemed as though Rob Holding’s Arsenal career was over.

Despite starting the FA Cup final and Community Shield victories, the 25-year-old looked to be on his way out of the Emirates due to concerns over game time.

At various points after his return from an ACL injury last campaign Holding had been Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Calum Chambers and Sokratis in the pecking order and a starting place looked a long way off.

But just four months on that all seems to have changed.

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The player has reportedly signed a contract extension that will last until 2025 after Mikel Arteta confirmed a deal was close to being announced in his press conference on Monday morning.

“It’s something that we will announce as quick as we can. But it looks like it,” said a beaming Arteta when asked if the paperwork had already been signed.

After consistently poor decisions when it comes to contract situations the news over Rob Holding finally seems like a positive change in direction.

It could have been argued that striking a deal for the centre back was not a priority. He still had two-and-a-half years remaining on his current contract and is hardly one of the Gunners big names.

But showing the proactivity to tie him down to a long-term deal as soon as possible is a smart of piece of business almost every way you look at it.

Last week Mikel Arteta revealed his long-term ambitions for his defensive options in the Arsenal squad.

“I just want a really strong core of defenders, central defenders, four to five,” he said. “And then generate that competition and also that cohesion which is really necessary.”

When you consider the fact that Kieran Tierney is the only defender to play more minutes than Holding this season alongside the fact that he has been offered an extensions, it’s clear to see that the 25-year-old is in this group.

Rob Holding during an Arsenal training session
(Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

This is vital for Arteta as he seeks to mould the squad more in his image.

Holding is also the type of personality that any manager would want to have around. He is popular off the pitch where is Arsenal’s resident DJ in the dressing room, but is also a leader on it. Without fans it’s interesting to notice that the Mancunian is one of the few players constantly talking throughout matches.

Arteta has revealed that these are the characteristics he’s looking for as he seeks to continue his cultural revolution at the Emirates.

“It’s down to him,” said the Spaniard of Holding’s rise to the first team. “How professional he is, how much he wants to learn, how much he puts that into every training session and then his character and his personality.

“He’s growing in every aspect and I’m really happy with him.”

At just 25-years-of-age it seems as though the former Bolton defender is only on a pathway to getting better than he is right now.

Then of course there is the added bonus of the fact that he is English. This helps Arsenal to fill the quota of homegrown players that they have struggled with recently.

Premier League rules dictate that there can only be a maximum of 17 foreign players in clubs’ 25-man squads, meaning that at least eight have to be homegrown.

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This why Mesut Ozil and Sokratis have been left out of the Premier League registration lists for this season.

Having English players to fill those eight spots are therefore very important, so tying one down to a long-term deal is wise.

Also the fact the fact that other Premier League clubs need to fill the quota of homegrown players means that if Holding does eventually end up falling down the pecking order again, then Arsenal will be able to sell him at a premium to raise vital transfer funds.

The Gunners have got a lot wrong in the past when it comes to contract situations.

Folarin Balogun in an Arsenal training session
(Image: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The ongoing saga with Flo Balogun is the most recent example, with the player currently set to leave on a free transfer with minimal compensation.

His is not an isolated case. Failure to secure new deals for Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain among many others have meant that they have had to let quality homegrown talent slip through their finger tips.

Signing Holding to a long-term deal certainly doesn’t fix all of that. But it is a sign that Arsenal are finally learning from their mistakes.