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Holding Out For A Hero: Arsenal In For Bolton Starlet

Our newly crowned Player of the Season may not be sticking around for too long

Rob Holding could be Arsenal-bound after winning Bolton's Player of the Season in his first professional campaign
Rob Holding could be Arsenal-bound after winning Bolton's Player of the Season in his first professional campaign
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Fresh rumours have emerged that Bolton Wanderers' academy prodigy and Player of the Season at just 20 years of age will be departing the club this summer.

Rob Holding is apparently the subject of a multi-million pound bid from those perennial title challengers at Christmas and just about Champions League qualifiers and demanding Arsene Wenger be sacked for this travesty in May, Arsenal.

The youngster has further Premier League suitors, supposedly in the form of Everton and Bournemouth, while he's also been scouted by England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate. I bet he's glad we rejected that interest from Reading in January....

A word of warning to Holding

If Rob Holding thought a move to Arsenal was an exciting prospect, he's probably not wrong. Can you imagine swapping training every day with human cruise liner Emile Heskey, goal-shy Mark Davies and walking calamity Dorian Dervite for playing alongside Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin? Not much of a contest, on paper.

However, Holding would do well to heed caution before walking blindly into a move to the English talent death trap that is Arsenal FC.

In the last decade Arsenal have spent a cool £61 million on supposedly hot young English talent, in the form of Theo Walcott back in 2005, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2011, and Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck two summers ago.

Player Transfer Fee League Appearances
Danny Welbeck £16m in 2014 36 (11 of which were as a substitute)
Calum Chambers £16m in 2014 35 (16 of which were as a substitute)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £12m in 2011 100 (51 of which were as a substitute)
Carl Jenkinson £1m in 2011 31 (11 of which were as a substitute)
Theo Walcott £12m in 2005 236 (89 of which were as a substitute)
Total £61m 438 (178 of which were as a substitute)

None of these five players has truly established themselves as a regular first choice in the Arsenal line-up. Even Walcott, after 11 seasons at the club, is now playing second fiddle to 19-year-old nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha, Alex Iwobi, even though the youngster hasn't contributed an assist or goal in his last five matches.

Walcott has only averaged around 21 league games per season during his time at Arsenal, admittedly largely due to injuries. But aside from him the other five English prospects have mustered just 202 league appearances between them, and only 113 starts.

The case most relevant in terms of Holding's future is Calum Chambers. The young defender made 22 league appearances for Southampton in his breakthrough season in 2013/14, but has mustered just 35 for Arsenal in the two following campaigns, of which nearly half have been off the bench. Just 12 of those have been this season and he hasn't played at all since March, with Wenger selecting the distinctly average Brazilian centre-back Gabriel Paulista ahead of him.

How many English players started for Arsenal at the weekend? Just Danny Welbeck, with Jack Wilshere and Walcott coming off the bench. The previous week, in their 1-0 home demolition of relegation bound Norwich City, Arsenal did not have a single starting English player - so you have to question whether a move to the Emirates is really in Holding's best interests.

Business Sense for Bolton?

At face value the mooted fee of anywhere between £5 million and £10 million for a player with just 30 senior appearances and just one more year on his contract seems a good deal. However, we've seen time and time again that any cash raised by a player sale doesn't see the light of day in terms of replacements at Bolton.

For example, where did the combined total of around £3 million from Tim Ream's move to Fulham and Chung-Yong Lee's sale to Crystal Palace go? Where did the money from Gary Cahill's £7 million sale to Chelsea go? (Oh yeah, £3 million for Marvin Sordell...) What did we do with the £15 million we got for Nicolas Anelka?

If history has taught us anything, it's that any money we receive for a player will not be reinvested and, particularly now, this cash will only go towards paying off any outstanding taxes, loans and debts the club still haven't told us about. And don't forget the fact that the club is still under a transfer embargo.

The best case scenario for Bolton may be to take the money for Holding and try and get him back on loan next season. But, if he moves to Arsenal, will they see any value in him dropping down a division having been one of the best defenders in the second half of the Championship season?

Either way, I'm afraid this is yet another bad news story in a season of bad news at Bolton.