By Alex Forbes
Arsenal have confirmed that Rob Holding has agreed to join the club - but who is Rob Holding? The 20-year-old centre back previously played his football at Bolton where, despite as a team having an unsuccessful campaign, he stood out in his 30 appearances and claimed their player of the season award.
Holding's attributes and playing style reflects a modern-day centre back, he offers the ever-growing popular approach of a 'ball playing' defender. For his age, he's remarkably comfortable with the ball and looks to keep possession, rather than the classical no-nonsense defensive mentality. This maturity, composure and desire to keep the ball suggests he'll be a perfect fit for Arsenal's possession-based game.
While playing centre back, it's also not uncommon to see Holding advance with the ball and drive into the opposition's half. This trait in his own arsenal could be effective as its not uncommon to see the opposition drop deep while we have the ball, so on occasion, Holding's desire to be involved could offer another route in forming an attack. However, this consequently comes at a risk of being caught out. In a league with such a high standard, fast pace and clinical finishers, Holding will have to work on his timing and reading of the game to help reduce chances of an opposition counter-attack.
After the recent FA announcement about the changes to the under-21 league, I would expect that after joining the first team in pre-season, we'll see Holding feature in a handful of under-23 games to help him settle into the club. It will also help him to understand Arsenal's playing philosophy and regain match sharpness after his successful participation that saw him and Calum Chambers win the Toulon Tournament with England Under 21s.