Arsenal sending Rob Holding to Newcastle on a season-long loan suits all parties.
Rob Holding was Arsenal’s best defender prior to his late 2018 ACL tear. The Englishman was excelling in a left centre-back role under Unai Emery and looked like he had everything required to become a mainstay in our defence for years to come. Then, the injury ruined everything. He’s looked a shadow of the defender he was in 2018 and his future with Arsenal was therefore cast in doubt.
The transfer rumour mill has insinuated that Holding had been put up for sale by Arsenal. However, today’s announcement by The Athletic has inferred that this wasn’t the case. Instead, we’ve been listening to loan offers for the Englishman. It’s been revealed that Holding will be joining Newcastle on a temporary basis for the upcoming season.
The deal constructed by the Magpies to take Holding up north will not involve either an obligation or option to buy clause.
So, this agreement with Newcastle suggests that Holding remains within Mikel Arteta’s long-term plans, with Holding to return to north London upon the expiry of the loan. Arsenal seem to hope that some consistent game time can bring Holding back to pre-injury levels. With two new centre-backs in the form of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes, among a plethora of other defensive options, Arteta can’t guarantee Holding such consistency. Perhaps Steve Bruce can.
In the meantime, Newcastle will have a quality defender on their books. Within the limited minutes Holding has played this season, he’s looked strong aerially and provides obvious physical presence in defence. Yes, he hasn’t looked quite as assured on the ball post-injury and has sometimes got caught out defending one-on-one, but still, these are signs of a lack of sharpness and such compartments of his game are things he can work on during his time with Bruce’s team. A potential partnership of Holding and Jamaal Lascelles should really excite Newcastle fans.
Arsenal’s Hope for Rob Holding
For Holding on a personal level, it also gives him an opportunity to prove himself. One got the impression that Arteta was reluctant to play the Englishman at the 2019/20 season’s end as he appeared slightly unreliable. This loan move provides Holding a chance to show his Spanish head coach that he isn’t a liability. He’ll want to show that he’s more than capable of offering stiff competition for Gabriel and Saliba.
If it proves to be the case that Holding cannot return to pre-injury levels, then, it’s also within our best interests that he continues to stutter for Newcastle rather than for us. We can accept that he isn’t the player we thought he could turn in to and then sell him on next season without risking playing him for us this season. The loan move is a win-win for everyone involved.
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that Holding does recapture his form for Newcastle this season. Arsène Wenger brought him to the Emirates Stadium for the minute fee of just £2m and it’d be great to see the Frenchman’s gamble pay off. He could yet still prove to be one of Wenger’s many great gifts to Arsenal Football Club.
Best of luck next season, Rob.