Nigel Winterburn urges Mikel Arteta to keep Arsenal defender Rob Holding this summer

Holding hasn't been the same since his knee injury
Holding hasn’t been the same since his serious knee injury (Picture: Getty Images)

Nigel Winterburn expects multiple exits in the centre-back department this summer for Arsenal, but insists Rob Holding is the one most worth keeping.

Mikel Arteta is overseeing a complete overhaul of his squad after his side finished outside of the top six for the first time in 25 years last season.

Arsenal’s campaign ended on a high note with their record 14th FA Cup win over Chelsea, but there is much work to be done for the Gunners to get back to the top.

The Gunners have already completed the signing of former Chelsea winger Willian on a free transfer, while Lille defender Gabriel looks set to be become their second major recruit of the summer.

The north London club already have plenty of centre-backs on their books, and Gabriel would be their ninth, including Kostantinos Mavropanos, who was sent out on a season-long loan to Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart.

Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are the names being linked with an Emirates exit, and Arsenal legend Winterburn believes that out of the four, Holding is the one that should stay.

Arteta has some tough decisions to make this summer
Arteta has some tough decisions to make this summer (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I think there’ll be more than one of them going, because Arsenal have got a host of centre-halves and it may come down to which players are going to be limited in appearances going forward,’ Winterburn told Bookmakers.co.uk.

‘Age may come in to it too – all of those players will be looking at the situation and wondering how often they’re going to be playing and what their chances of being a first choice are.

‘And if not, are they happy to sit on the bench and wait for opportunities? The one player out of the four that I think might be worth holding on to is Rob Holding.

‘Up until his injury I would have said he was Arsenal’s most consistent defender, but he’s struggled to get back to full fitness and get that consistency back.

‘I don’t know whether there’s a slight doubt that he’s going to ever get that consistency back, but before his injury he’s the one centre-half I felt was able to offer that.

‘So it would be a bit of a surprise if Holding was to leave, but then you have to consider Arsenal’s financial situation.

‘They might feel as though he’s the one they might be able to get the most money for, so in terms of the club trying to balance the books it might be a good option for them to sell.

‘But with the amount of games Arsenal are going to be playing next season it makes sense to retain at least two of them.’

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