Rob Holding: Is the Bolton Starlet the Signing Arsenal Need?

With rumours linking proven stars such as Jamie Vardy, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan cooling off, Arsenal are now being reported to be closing in on the signing of Championship defender Rob Holding by Daily Star, Express, and Daily Mail, among other sources.

At O-Posts, we break down every widely reported transfer rumour, and Praveen R. Paramasivam dissects this archetypal Arsenal rumour.


Will he fit in at Arsenal?

Holding was essentially a fringe player at Bolton Wanderers at the start of the campaign, starting more matches from the bench than on the pitch.

Injuries to first-teamers earned him a surprise inclusion in the starting lineup in December 2015, and he proceeded to solidify himself as an automatic starter, winning Fans’ Player of the Year despite being on the sidelines for the better part of the first half of the season.

Known for his technical ability that makes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger blush, he is visibly vocal at the back. Despite boasting a skill set that is impressive for a 20-year-old centre-back, he hardly attempts to overplay. His tackles have always been on point, and he hardly loses his cool.

Although he stands at only 5 feet 9 inches tall, his aerial ability stands out. However, his decision-making in the defensive phase has a lot of room for improvement, but having made only 30 senior appearances for Bolton, he is certain to fine-tune his game to be regarded as one of the England’s finest defenders in the near future.


What role will he play?

He will likely wait for his chances for the most part of the season in a perfect world, but with injuries almost certain to strike more than half the roster over the course of the campaign, he may get a few starts and cameo appearances.

Although the manager has begun treating domestic cup competitions rather seriously, he may hand him a place in the starting lineup to help him gel with the team on the pitch.

With Chambers, he may even go on to form a partnership in the distant future; he, as well as Chambers, currently boasts the ammunition to do just that, but improvement will be the key to witness an all English centre-back partnership at Ashburton Grove.


Can Arsenal get their man?

In January, Bolton turned down Reading’s £400,000 advances, and their move has borne fruits, as they can get 10 times as much as what their then-fellow Championship outfit offered.

Bolton are in a pathetic financial state and are all but certain to capitalise on Premier League runners-up’s interests to boost their financial muscle.

Besides, his current contract with the Macron Stadium team runs only until summer of 2017, and the Bolton head honchos shall act swiftly, accordingly.

Although Bolton chairman Dean Holdsworth told in May that he saw the 20-year-old as a future Bolton skipper, he admitted that he would be forced to flog him if he received a reasonable bid.

Even if Arsenal sign Mkhitaryan and Alvaro Morata, Arsenal will be able to meet Bolton’s valuations, and as things stand, Arsenal can easily get their man unless the ever-irrational Chelsea or Manchester City join the race.


Is this the signing Arsenal need?

Arsenal’s first-choice centre-backs are already on the wrong side of 30, and although the Arsenal academy has regularly been producing attacking gems such as Alex Iwobi, not many youth defenders have come through the ranks in the recent years.

Barring Calum Chambers, who is tipped to go out on loan shortly, no other youngster is on the brink of a first-team breakthrough. Accordingly, signing him could very much prove a shrewd decision.

It may appear as though Arsenal do not need to sign a 20-year-old who has never played a full season, but he will likely be snapped up big Championship clubs or even Premier League clubs if the Gunners do not get him.

Should he produce performances of the magnitude he has been producing at Bolton, he will command a transfer fee in the region of John Stones’ price tag in a season or two.

Arsenal definitely need signings who could make an immediate impact like Mario Gotze or Jamie Vardy. However, bringing Holding in will not only be a plan for the club’s own future as doing so will also ensure that other title rivals do not get their hands on who has the potential to become a world-class talent.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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