There was not a big fanfare when Arsene Wenger brought a young defender from Bolton Wanderers back in 2016, especially as he cost peanuts at a fee of around £2 million.
The then 20 year-old had only played 26 games in the Championship at a club that came rock bottom that year, but Arsene Wenger must have seen his potential even then. All the same, Holding has never really been a regular in the first team and was only given 39 League starts in his first four years with the Gunners.
But this season he has already played 14 games under Arteta, and now the boss has persuaded him to sign a new long term contract with Arsenal, putting him on course to becoming an Arsenal legend if he continues his excellent displays so far.
Although he has never been a regular starter, he has said he is always happy to fight for his place. “I’ve survived each round (of signings),” he told the Telegraph.
“It’s only natural for a footballer to see someone sign for your club in your position and doubt whether you are wanted or if you are going to be playing. But I don’t look at it and think I am giving up because we signed a new defender.
“I am up for a fight. If I have put 100 per cent of the best I can be into it, and that guy still plays over me, then I’ll hold my hands up and say OK, maybe he is better than me. But I know I can look myself in the mirror that night and say I gave my best that day.”
The fact is that Arsenal have signed many many central defenders, but it looks like he is going to outlive them all. Next season I expect to see him, Mari and Gabriel being our core defenders, with hopefully Saliba joining the party as well…