Arsene Wenger says Rob Holding is an ‘interesting prospect’ with ‘positive qualities’ but warned that the player has a long way to go to becoming a top star.
The 21-year-old defender has thrived since Arsenal turned to a 3-4-3 formation last month with his popularity on the terraces reaching new heights at Stoke on Saturday thanks to a robust challenge on Stoke City’s Marco Arnautovic that left the Austrian in an arm sling. Videos of a catchy chant comparing the ex-Bolton man with legendary Italian centre-back Fabio Cannavaro have since gone viral.
Videos of a catchy chant comparing the ex-Bolton man with legendary Italian centre-back Fabio Cannavaro have since gone viral.
Aware that supporters are quick to put players on a pedestal (and equally quick to knock them down again) the boss delivered a cautiously optimistic verdict on his summer signing’s debut season at the Emirates.
“The fans are always speedy but they know football and they can understand very quickly if the potential of a player is there,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“From the potential to becoming a top star is a long way to go, and that is based on motivation, intelligence and desire, but I’m sure that Rob has the positive ingredients for that.
“He’s good in the air, calm on the ball, has a good reading of the game and I think he’s a very complete centre back who will have a good mixture of being a good defender and also very good on the ball.
“He still has to gain experience and the central role is a bit more of a decisive one, so I use him a bit more on the flank. He’s a very interesting prospect.”
Holding is likely to line up next to Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel this evening with Laurent Koscielny taking a breather due to an ongoing Achilles problem.