When Arsenal completed the transfer of the young central defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers at the end of July, the response from the Arsenal fans was underwhelming to say the least. The tiny, compared to most Premier League transfers, price that we paid combined with him coming from a club that had just finished rock bottom of the Championship did not help and not many of us knew much, if anything, about him.
Having said that, Arsene Wenger was clearly impressed by what he had seen and our scouts have uncovered some real gems in the past, but we still did not expect to see much of him until the Arsenal injury curse hit Per Mertesacker and Gabriel and left the boss little choice.
That seems to have been the ideal chance for the young defender and he has grabbed it to such an extent that he is now in front of Calum Chambers in the pecking order, having been chosen to partner Laurent Koscielny when the France international returned to face Leicester City in our second Premier League game of the season last weekend.
That pairing managed to keep the likes of Vardy and Mahrez at bay and the senior Gunner was suitably impressed, as he explained in an Arsenal.com report this week. From the way Koscielny spoke about his new colleague, I get the idea that he could have a very bright future ahead of him and his attributes sound very similar to a certain John Stones, who this summer became the second most expensive defender in the world after David Luiz.
Koscielny said, “I think he has the quality to play for Arsenal. If he signed for us it is because he has all the qualities of a defender to play for Arsenal. He is young, but he is at the age where you need the experience and you need to play and focus on your job.
“I think Rob did well [against Leicester]. He is still young but you can see during the game he was focused on his job and technically he is good with the ball and defensively he is strong.
“It was easy for me to play with him on the pitch. For centre backs it is very important to communicate well and we did. It was good for his first game.
“He wants to give all of himself on the pitch but sometimes you need to be calmer, be focused on you position and on the pitch with your team-mates. Maybe I can give him this experience during the season.”
Don’t forget that Stones was himself plucked as an unknown by Everton from Championship club Barnsley at about the same age and for about the same money. Do you think Arsenal could have another Stones on our hands?