Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal’s Rob Holding ahead of their clash with Newcastle United, who he nearly joined this summer.
The defender came to the manager in the summer to question his options, having seen both William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes join up with the squad, while Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers were both on the road to recovery also, and with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz and Sokratis also in contention.
A loan deal was mooted with Newcastle, before the manager put his foot down and decided that he was needed in North London, and he now has the most minutes of any of our other options at CB.
The manager has now opened up on the decisions that were made in the summer, and the conversations which followed.
“It’s true that in the summer he came to me because we had a large amount of central defenders, he wasn’t sure about how many minutes he was going to have,” said the Spaniard in his pre-match conference (via Football.London).
“And we stopped him going anywhere because we knew he was going to be an important player for us.”
“Yeah well, it was almost a year ago when he came back from his injury,” he continued. “He had a period where he didn’t play and they he played against Leeds at home.
“When you compare how he has evolved from there in a year’s time it’s incredible. It’s down to him. 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.”
Arteta added that it is his attitude and work in training which has kept him in the team.
“Well, it’s what I see on a daily basis from him,” he said. “As well the room that he still has for improvement, his age, and I really like what I see. He has earned that right himself.
“It’s true that there have been many other conditions for him to play that many minutes because we have had injuries we have had other issues.
“But he has earned that right and I think nobody can question that. When he has played he has done really well.”
Has Holding excelled this season? Does he deserve his place as first-choice amongst our other stars?