It’s the kind of transfer that drives Arsenal fans crazy. While title rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are linked with huge deals this summer Arsene Wenger has signed English defender Rob Holding from Bolton for £2 million.
Arsenal fans have been calling for Wenger for months to strengthen the Gunners back line with a top defender and he has responded by signing a 20-year-old has only played 30 first-team games for Bolton.
Holding has been with Bolton since the age of seven and made his senior debut for his boyhood club in a Capital One Cup tie with Burton last August.
Capable of playing as either a centre-back or a full-back, the defender made 30 appearances last season and was one of their shining lights last season despite their relegation from the Championship.
He was rewarded for his fine performances by being named Bolton Player of the Year and he was also a member of England under-21 squad that won the Toulon tournament earlier this summer.
Arsene Wenger’s scouts have been reportedly keeping tabs on Holding’s progress throughout and they see him as one for the future at the Emirates.
Holding will become Wenger’s third signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Granit Xhaka and Takuma Asano.
Granit Xhaka has the makings of being a really good signing, but Holding and Asano are both buys for the future, which will not appease Arsenal fans as they want to win now. This season. They want players that can come in and make a difference. Players that can lead Arsenal to that elusive title.
No disrespect to Rob Holding but he is not the central defender that Arsenal need. They need to a top quality defender who can come in and immediately partner Laurent Koscielny in the heart of that defence.
Per Mertesacker is still only 31, and about to be named Arsenal captain, but after getting sent off against Chelsea in January he only started three Premier League matches up until April 21.
The reason why Arsenal need a new central defender is because the BFG replacement, Gabriel Paulista, wasn’t much better.
Gabriel might be blessed with pace, can make eye-catching tackles and is proactive in going to win the ball. He is, however, not ready to take on the responsibility of playing a whole season in Arsenal’s defence. He remains too rash and his reading of the game is simply not good enough.
Arsenal goalkeeping great David Seaman made this point recently when asked to appraise Arsenal’s squad.
“We still need a dominant centre-half,” Seaman said. “The thing is, a lot of the players who have played at the Euros aren’t going to be ready for the start of the season. And that means we’re going to have a weakened team.
“So he needs to buy someone to give the club a lift and give the fans a lift. Ideally a striker would be great, but either a centre-half or midfielder would do for me.”