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Arsenal clarify defender’s role as two Premier League rivals explore deal

Rob Holding will begin the season as an Arsenal player and is expected to remain so by the end of the transfer window, a report claims.

Holding has been with Arsenal since 2016, when he joined in a bargain transfer from Bolton Wanderers. For his first four seasons, he was a bit-part player, but last year he rose to prominence. Across all competitions, he made 39 appearances in the 2020-21 season – the most of a single year in his career.

But Arsenal’s acquisition of Ben White from Brighton in a much more expensive transfer has given them a defensive dilemma. They must work out who their ideal partner is for their recent recruit. In the process, someone like Holding might see their opportunities fade again.

The 25-year-old will be keen to continue his progress, so could have some concerns about his playing time. It has led to speculation of a move away; in recent days, he has been linked with Newcastle United and Leicester City.

Newcastle are yet to make a senior signing this summer and, while focusing on getting Joe Willock back from Arsenal, could try to get his teammate too. They actually tried to take Holding on loan last summer and he may have remained in their thinking.

Leicester, meanwhile, will be without Wesley Fofana due to injury until 2022 and need to find cover. Holding would be a useful option given his Premier League experience.

But according to Football.London, Arsenal will not be allowing Holding to leave in what remains of the transfer window. Instead, they still regard him as an important player, while he remains focused ahead of the new campaign.

It was only back in January that Holding signed a new contract with Arsenal, which will last until 2024. Their faith in the former England under-21 international is clear and their association will continue into a sixth season.

Holding has won four trophies during his time with Arsenal, for whom he has played 117 times in total. He has even worn the captain’s armband on occasion; indeed, Football.London mention that he will be part of their core leadership group this year along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kieran Tierney and Granit Xhaka.

Arsenal ready huge striker offer

At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal are still reflecting on their forward department for the season ahead.

Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are both in the final 12 months of their contracts and will likely be sold. Such decisions will require replacements to arrive at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners already have a couple of high-profile names in mind to strengthen their attack. And they believe they can tempt one with a huge increase on his current wages…

READ MOREArsenal ready to triple wages of striker in bid to beat Tottenham to £60m deal

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