Rob Holding says his new deal at Arsenal is justification for 10 months of hard work and proves that manager Mikel Arteta really wants him as part of his squad.
The 25-year-old appeared to be well down the centre-back pecking order at the Emirates when he returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines following ACL surgery but has, despite the acquisition of further defenders, established himself as a regular in the first team this season.
Five months since weighing up a loan move to get more playing time, he’s put pen-to-paper on terms that could keep him at the Emirates until 2025.
Speaking to The Telegraph’s (£) Sam Dean about the turnaround, Holding said: “A new contract shows you are part of the manager’s plans. It is that security, and I think it is proof of the hard work I have put in since lockdown.”
Revealing just how close he was to joining Newcastle United, he added: “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 was signed by Arsene Wenger from Bolton Wanderers for £2 million in 2016 and, to date, has made 96 appearances winning two FA Cup medals in the process.