Tuesday 12 December 2017

Arsenal complete signing of promising young Bolton defender Rob Holding

New Arsenal signing Rob Holding won Bolton's player of the year award last season
New Arsenal signing Rob Holding won Bolton's player of the year award last season

Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of England Under-21 defender Rob Holding from Sky Bet League One side Bolton.

The 20-year-old came through the ranks at Bolton before breaking into the first team 12 months ago and went on to immediately establish himself in the side.

Wanderers finished bottom of the Championship as they dropped down to the third tier but that did not stop Holding picking up the club's player of the season award.

Arsenal announced his signing on Friday, with both the fee and length of contract undisclosed, to make the versatile defender their third summer acquisition.

Harding follows Granit Xhaka and Takuma Asano in moving to the Emirates Stadium but it remains to be seen if he will be involved with the first team straight away.

He was a late replacement call-up for England's U21 squad which won the Toulon Tournament in May, making two appearances during the competition.

Bolton tweeted their gratitude to the player following confirmation of the deal.

"Everyone at #BWFC would like to thank @RobHolding95 for his efforts during his time with the club, and wish him well in his future career," Bolton posted on their official Twitter account.

Ivan Gazidis, left, and Arsene Wenger
Ivan Gazidis, left, and Arsene Wenger

Arsenal's own statement on Holding's signing closed with confirmation the Gunners "remain in the market" for new players, with further attacking options the most likely target before the close of the window.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will only spend money when they deem it necessary as chief executive Ivan Gazidis believes the club now have a squad good enough to win the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

The Gunners finished a distant second to champions Leicester last season, despite sitting to of the table at the turn of the year.

It means Arsene Wenger has failed to deliver the title to the club since the memorable unbeaten 2003/2004 campaign.

Since then they have been left behind as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City spent big in their quest for trophies.

But Arsenal themselves have plenty of money, with fans left angered by the revelation in February that there is well in excess of £100million in cash reserves.

Despite that, Wenger did not recruit a single outfield player last summer, buying goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea, and only added midfielder Mohamed Elneny from Basle during the January transfer window.

This year he has brought in Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka for a hefty fee similar to those paid in recent summers for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

But Gazidis has warned supporters not to expect an influx of big-money buys as they watch their rivals splash the cash.

"This approach, for us, gives us a very, very powerful balance because it's not just about spending money but about how you spend your money and doing it wisely," Gazidis told ESPN.

"It's about having a strong core philosophy and values within the club that players buy into and our fans can be proud of.

"These are all things that lead to success, and when you look at Arsenal over the last four or five years, there's no question that the squad has been progressing in strength.

"We've got a squad now that we believe is capable of competing to win the Premier League. We came in second last year, which was disappointing. But we're on the right track."

Arsenal, who face Lens in their first pre-season friendly on Friday night before flying for two matches in the United States, now have the financial muscle to compete for the biggest names following years of being beaten to the punch as they continued to pay off their move to the Emirates Stadium.

But Gazidis insists they will continue with their policy of believing in their young talent and do not operate to a model that would see them match the money being spent by rivals with wealthy backers.

"We're making progress in what is a fiercely competitive world, against competitors that have the capability to spend far more money than we do," he said.

"We're doing it by being very, very disciplined; spending money where we believe it makes a difference, but also giving young players a chance and believing in ourselves and our values."

Arsenal have signed young Japan striker Takuma Asano as well as Xhaka but, given the belief in the current squad, there may be no further additions to Wenger's attacking options despite a long-term injury to Danny Welbeck and both Olivier Giroud and Sanchez set to miss the start of the season following international exertions.

Press Association

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