Rob Holding has signed a new contract at Arsenal that should secure his future at the club until 2025.
The centre-back, who was the subject of a loan bid from Newcastle last summer, has seen his fortunes turn around despite heavy competition among Mikel Arteta’s backline. His new deal, which will be confirmed in the next couple of days, runs to 2024 with the option of an extra 12 months. It will extend his spell at Arsenal to nine years if seen through to its conclusion.
Holding had been unsure about his future in pre-season, prompting talks with Arteta, but the manager insisted that he remained part of the Arsenal squad. He feared being left out in the cold, but started the Premier League season alongside the new signing Gabriel Magalhães and has been picked for the past 11 top-flight games.
Clarity over Holding’s future comes as Arteta finally whittles down his centre-back options. William Saliba joined Nice on loan last week and Arteta confirmed on Monday that Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who has not played this season having been left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads, is likely to depart this month.
Arsenal’s other outcast, Mesut Özil, remains in talks with Fenerbahce over what would be a difficult loan deal to pull off. Arteta suggested there was no breakthrough over the playmaker’s next move. “My understanding is that nothing has changed [since last week],” he said. “Edu and the club are having some conversations about the near future and the long-term future and when we know something, we will announce it.”
Arteta said Arsenal were assessing their goalkeeping situation after Matt Macey’s departure to Hibernian. There have been suggestions Alex Rúnarsson will go out on loan, which would require at least one arrival, but no decision has been arrived at.
Arsenal host Crystal Palace on Thursday after three straight league wins and an extra-time victory over Newcastle in the FA Cup third round. Arteta was asked about the wisdom of players engaging in goal celebrations given football’s continuation is under increasing scrutiny at this point of the Covid-19 pandemic and admitted the sport was in a conflicting position.
“We’re asking our players to be man-marking people, to be pushing people around, then we cannot say hello to anybody,” he said. “It gets a little bit controversial and difficult to understand. Morally, with the situation we have in the country, with the situation we have worldwide, to keep doing what we are doing is a little bit of a strange feeling.
“We know as well what we can bring to society if we are able to do it in a safe way, then there are a lot of positives to take. It’s just that balance.”
Thomas Partey could return from his thigh injury against Palace, and Gabriel is available after recovering from Covid-19. Arsenal hope for good news about Gabriel Martinelli, who was due for a scan on an ankle after sustaining an injury in the warm-up to the Newcastle game.