Premier League • England

Rob Holding to Besiktas back on, but Arsenal block Gabriel exit despite tactical change

Arsenal defender Rob Holding

Arsenal defender Rob Holding is the subject of a bid from Besiktas

Rob Holding is expected to complete a move away from Arsenal before the end of this transfer window, according to Charles Watts, with a switch to Turkish giant Besiktas still on the cards.

The Gunners rejected Besiktas’ first offer for the centre-half earlier this summer. However,  the 27-year-old could yet be open to re-negotiating in order to facilitate a move.

“They’re still exploring whether they can get it done and are talking to Arsenal about it, but I don’t think that there has been a bid yet from them,” said Watts.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if one comes, and Arsenal are very open to letting Rob Holding go. But they’re not just going to give him away. It depends what offer comes in between now and the end of the window.”

With Besiktas also linked with a move for free agent Sergio Ramos, another exit route could yet open up for Holding.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if other clubs are still monitoring Holding’s situation,” added Watts. “I think we’re going to see so many deals done in the next seven days or so.

“Holding is an attractive proposition to a lot of clubs. He’s a good defender. He is a really experienced player. He’s a great leader. And I think at another club he can be he can be a top centre back in the Premier League, certainly lower-half Premier League and possibly abroad as well.

“Rob Holding will go but I don’t think Besiktas have tabled a firm offer for him yet.”


Holding’s fellow Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has also linked with a move away, but it’s not something Watts anticipates happening in this transfer window.

Gabriel has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia during the summer and with Eder Militao ruled out for the long-term due to an ACL injury, Real Madrid have also been touted as a destination for the Brazilian defender.

Despite those links, Watts does not expect Gabriel to depart. The 25-year-old has had to contend with a place on the bench so far this season but should come back into the frame as the campaign goes on.

“Gabriel, from what I understand is not is not for sale,” continued Watts. “There is interest in Gabriel, 100 percent, from Saudi Arabia. I’m not sure about Real Madrid. I saw those reports.”


“We’re seeing a little bit of a new-look Arsenal, and new ideas from Mikel Arteta in terms of how he’s setting his team up,” said Watts.

“I think he wants an extra body in midfield. And that’s why Thomas Partey is playing at right-back, but he’s still plays in midfield more than right back.

“And when you’ve got Thomas Partey there, it makes more sense to have Ben White as centre-back because he can then still get on the overlap when Partey goes inside. And that does give you another man going forward.

“If you’ve just got two out-and-out centre-backs, and Gabriel and Saliba play in there, then you don’t have the option of someone going on the overlap.

“It’s a tactical thing at the moment for Arsenal. I don’t think Arteta is going to do it every single game, I think this is just part of the plan for Arsenal this season.

“Mikel would have been really hurt by how last season ended and he would have spent the summer really looking at how he can take the team to the next level.

“Tactically he’s probably looking at this as a chance of evolving a little bit and potentially being able to control games in the middle of the park by having these big physical players and an extra man in there. And I think that’s the reason Gabriel has been on the bench.

“I don’t think it’s because Arsenal are trying to move him on. We’re being told Gabriel is still a very, very important part of Arsenal’s plans. I’d be stunned if they sold him. It wouldn’t make any sense on a footballing level for them to do it. It would be a crazy decision.”