Wenger warns clubs off Arsenal emerging star
By Matt Farr
Arsenal defender Rob Holding will not be leaving the club on loan this month.
The 21-year-old moved to the Gunners from Bolton in the summer and has been a regular member of the first-team squad, clocking up seven senior appearances in total.
He has made a good account of himself since arriving at the Emirates Stadium, but a loan move was touted for Holding to continue his development in a regular first-team environment.
However, Arsene Wenger admits he rates the England Under-21 international very highly, and does not want to let him leave the club this month.
He told Arsenal’s official website: “I rate him highly. I think he’s learning his job at the moment at the top level and overall I think he has done extremely well, I believe that he has a bright future at this club.
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“I think it’s too early for him to go out on loan. I think it’s very interesting for him to see how people behave, how Premier League top teams work.
“He develops by being in touch with players like Koscielny, like Mustafi, like Gabriel, Mertesacker – all experienced centre-backs. They teach him well.”
Holding was thrown into the deep end after making his £2.5 million move, with injuries to Mertesacker and Gabriel forcing Wenger to start his new signing on the opening day of the season against Liverpool.
The Gunners lost the game 4-3, but there were signs that Holding has Premier League star defender potential.
With qualification for the latter stages already assured, Holding also made his Champions League debut in a 4-1 win over FC Basel in early December.
He is expected to start against Preston in the FA Cup third round meeting on Saturday.
Football Insider verdict
Some may still have their reservations, but Holding looks like a huge talent. The defender has taken to life at Arsenal very well, despite having to integrate very quickly. He’s had a taste of the Premier League and the Champions League, and he finds himself in a position where he can compete with Arsenal’s regular first-teamers for a starting-place. He is a good enough. A loan deal would be beneficial for Holding, as he could easily land a regular first-team role at a Championship or even low-end Premier League side – just like Calum Chambers at Middlesbrough – but at this stage it is not the right move. Even if he is on the sidelines, he is surrounded by an experienced bunch of players, as well as an experienced manager on a day-to-basis, and he is learning a great deal. Meanwhile, given Arsenal’s history with injuries, he’s needed as cover. Perhaps next season a loan move could be a more favourable option.