Arsenal’s work behind the scenes continues, as Mikel Arteta revealed during his latest press conference that Rob Holding is to be rewarded with a contract extension.

The central defender has been in fabulous form this season, and his contract was due to expire in 2023. But after starting 10 of the last 11 games and playing a pivotal part this season, Holding is seen as a crucial part of Arteta’s plans.

So the club have sought to tie Holding down longer term, with an extension until 2024, with an option for another 12 months. If he stays for the duration of the contract, that will take Holding’s stay at Arsenal to a total of nine years.

Not bad for a £2m buy from Bolton.

The man who signed him, Arsene Wenger, was once famously quoted regarding Holding, saying “I’m sorry he didn’t cost £60m.” And it is clear what a bargain he has been – but rewind a few months to the start of this season and his Arsenal career didn’t look as rosy.

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Holding was on the verge of joining Newcastle on loan, with the signings of Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari putting his claim to a starting place under increasing threat. Holding was fighting for his match sharpness after recovering from serious injury and grabbing the minutes he needed was difficult, but he showed again his mental strength as well as his talent as he featured in our successful FA Cup run.

We have a healthy contingent of centre-backs, with Gabriel, Pablo Mari, David Luiz and Calum Chambers all viable options at the back in the centre, but Rob Holding has proved he can stand shoulder to shoulder with them all. The defender has battled with pacy wingers, physical strikers and a combination of both and he can deal with all manner of threats. Learning to play out from the back has also been a learning curve, but Holding is more than efficient on the ball when necessary, with a  cool head on young shoulders.

Well done Rob Holding, you’ve done us proud.