Rob Holding has revealed how a pre-season chat with Mikel Arteta gave him the ‘confidence’ to seize a first-team place at Arsenal after signing a new deal at the Emirates.
Holding was linked with an exit during the summer with Newcastle interested in signing the defender on a season-long loan deal, though after a move failed to materialise the 25-year-old has fought his way into the Arsenal side this season.
The centre-back has made 13 league starts during the current campaign and has been rewarded with a new three-year contract, with Holding revealing how a pre-season discussion with Arteta convinced him to remain and fight for a first-team place.
“We signed two centre-halves over the summer and I was thinking, ‘am I even going to be involved in this?’” Holding told the Telegraph. “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, 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, the boss 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.
“I played the game, we did well and we won. And then on the Monday, he called me into his office. He said it made no sense to let me go if my end goal was to play here. He was saying I was going to play, that it was my shirt to lose. That was the confidence he put in me.
“I had a chance then to prove myself, to say to myself: ‘right, if I am going to stay, I am going to play and I am going to try to be the best player.”