Arsenal defender Rob Holding announced that this summer he was on the verge of a loan move to Newcastle, before finally remaining in north London and setting himself up as a starter.
This week, until the summer of 2024, Holding signed a new three-and-a-half-year agreement, a reward for a season in which the 25-year-old has become a regular in the Gunners line-up.
His path to becoming a regular, however, was not always clear, with Gabriel Magalhaes, Pablo Mari and William Saliba recently signed by the club in defense.
Holding felt he would have to go somewhere to find daily minutes, and he said a transfer to the Magpies was close to completion only months ago, speaking to The Telegraph.
Over the summer, we signed two center-halves and I wondered, “Am I even going to be involved in this?” ” Said Holding. “At 25, I’ve got to concentrate on playing. I talked to the manager and said that I wanted football, that there was a loan offer that had come up. I wanted a year to play after my injury [a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in December 2018].
It was all decided, and the club figured it would be the best move for me, but [head coach Mikel Arteta] pulled me aside the week before the Community Shield against Liverpool and said he wanted to confirm that I was focused on the weekend because I was needed.
I told him I will still play my best, wherever I am, and put 100 percent in.
“I played the game, we did well and we won, and then he called me into his office on Monday. He said that if my final goal was to play here, it made no sense to let me go. He said I was going to play, that it was my shirt to lose. That was the trust he put in me.”
This season, Holding went on to start 13 Premier League matches, including 10 of the last 11.
After a tough start, the Gunners enjoyed a late revival, having won four games in a row in all competitions.
That run has the Gunners in the league table up to 11th as they prepare to face Crystal Palace on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium.