Rob Holding has joined Crystal Palace in a permanent deal that is reported to be worth £4 million.
The centre-back leaves Arsenal, heading into the final year of his contract, after seven years at the club with a couple of FA Cup medals and three Community Shields to his name. He has signed a three year deal at Selhurst Park.
Signed out of the blue from Bolton Wanderers for £2 million, Holding was a bit of a punt by Arsene Wenger who became a solid and reliable first team squad member.
Just a month after he signed Holding, Wenger, facing a backlash from supporters for being parsimonious in the transfer market, quipped: “Nobody is speaking about the performance of Rob Holding today. You should be happy; he is English, he is 20 years old, but I’m sorry he didn’t cost £55m, so it cannot be good.”
By the end of his first year, the terraces had taken the player to heart with nicknames (Bobby Holdini) and chants (“He’s better than Cannavaro”) that referenced his talent alongside masters of Italian defending.
He earned both thanks to his performance in the 2017 FA Cup when he stepped up during an injury crisis to star as part of a three-man backline that beat Manchester City in the semi-final before securing an against-the-odds 2-1 win over Chelsea in the final. The image of him mouthing off at Diego Costa is definitely one for the scrapbook.
🎶 Rob Holding, you know 🎶 pic.twitter.com/ILJJW5Kj1L
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 1, 2023
Three years later, Holding started a second FA Cup final against Chelsea, this time without fans in attendance, as Mikel Arteta’s side came from behind to secure the trophy for the 14th time in Arsenal’s history. Of the 11 players who started in red that day, only two remain on the books – Nicolas Pepe and Kieran Tierney – and their days also look numbered.
In total, Holding made 162 appearances for Arsenal under three different managers. He arguably played his most consistent and best football under Unai Emery but cruelly had his progress hampered by an ACL injury that ruled him out of action just as he was being tipped for an England call-up.
Last season, Holding played 24 times, including 14 matches in the Premier League, but more often than not, it was as a substitute as we closed up shop. When he did start, it became increasingly obvious that the gap was widening between himself and those ahead of him in the pecking order.
Testing himself in pastures new certainly makes sense at this point of his career. He potentially has quite a few years ahead of him at the top of the game and it wouldn’t surprise us to see him thrive if he’s trusted with regular minutes.
We wish Rob all the best for the future.