It has been a fairly interesting summer transfer to say the very least, most of all in North London.
Arsenal are a team that have often been slow out of the gates when it comes to adding to their ranks but that has seemed more apparent than ever this year as transfer fees escalate and rivals spend with little financial concern.
In a close season that has seen Manchester United bring in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Chelsea have signed Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante whilst Manchester City have brought in Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan. The Citizens are also thought to be intent on adding Leroy Sane and John Stones whilst Paul Pogba is also edging closer towards a move to Old Trafford.
All that spending and it somewhat feels that Arsenal are being left behind again. We’ve seen Arsene move on the final day of the transfer window, but it sometimes feels forced, like he is trying to appease the unease the supporters are feeling surrounding the squad.
But despite this, the Gunners have moved to bring in a couple of names this summer with Granit Xhaka, Takuma Asana and finally Rob Holding coming into improve the ranks. However, some supporters have been left a little underwhelmed by Arsene Wenger’s activity so far, but have they been a little quick to jump the gun, in particular with Rob Holding?
Despite being only 20-years-old, the former Bolton man has been quick to impress for the Gunners on their pre-season tour so far, making two appearances and scoring in a 3-1 win over Club Deportivo Guadalajara.
Although pre-season is a difficult place to judge true performances, Holding has begun well and has shown some great signs of promise. He’s shown his defensive steel and seems like a positive character on the pitch, leading well from the back despite his inexperience.
But one thing that looks particularly promising is his tactical awareness whilst he looks at relative ease with the ball at his feet. He makes well-informed decisions when he does have the ball and seems to fit Arsenal’s footballing mentality in keeping the ball when in possession.
For Holding, he has an excellent opportunity to break-into this Arsenal starting eleven. With Per Mertesacker outlined for a number of months and no imminent signing to fill the void, Holding could be the man to add a little steel in defence.
There is little doubt that in time he will improve and get a lot better, but whether he is ready to straight into the first team is unlikely at this stage. Gabriel is a little rough around the edges and there is more to come from him, whilst Calum Chambers will be waiting for another opportunity to come into the first-team too. Holding has plenty of competition but the signs this far are extremely positive indeed.
It’s going to be another tough year for the Gunners but in Holding, Wenger has found an extremely useful young defender. Whether it’s going to instant promotion, a loan move or providing competition from the bench, Arsenal fans should be a little more optimistic.