Rob Holding has confirmed that he was very close to securing a loan switch to Newcastle last summer amid stiff competition for places at Arsenal.
The north London club have recruited defenders Gabriel Magalhaes, Pablo Mari and William Saliba in the last 18 months, which may have raised questions as to how Arteta’s options would meaningfully compete.
Arsenal had looked to move on several defensive options to reduce the number of players would be left out in the cold, with the 25-year-old set to be one such figure allowed to leave.
Speaking to The Telegraph in a recent interview, Holding confirmed speculation that a deal to take Holding to St James’ Park was all but agreed between all parties, as he revealed:
We signed two centre-halves over the summer and I was thinking, ‘am I even going to be involved in this?’
At 25, I have to focus on playing. I spoke to the manager and said there was a loan opportunity that had come up, that I needed football. After my injury [a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in December 2018] I needed a year to play.
It was all agreed, and the club thought it would be the best move for me, but in the week before the Community Shield against Liverpool, [head coach Mikel Arteta] pulled me aside and said he wanted to check that I was focused for the weekend because I was needed.
I told him that, wherever I am, I will always play my hardest and put 100 per cent in.
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Given his importance to Arteta’s side, missing out on Holding is a real blow for Newcastle, but they have this month’s transfer window to set things right.
Another reported target in Fikayo Tomori looks to be slipping away in the transfer race for Newcastle amid fierce competition for his signature.
However, rumours of Faouzi Ghoulam moving to Tyneside aren’t going away; and with plenty of time left until the transfer deadline, never say never to the possibility of new faces arriving.