Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been tipped to hand Rob Holding a surprise leadership role in the Gunners squad when 23-year-old centre-back returns from long-term injury. It comes as current club captain Laurent Koscielny attempts to force his way out of the club.


Holding has only played 60 games in his three seasons as an Arsenal player since joining the club from Bolton in 2016, while he hasn't been seen on the pitch since a knee ligament injury in December. But when he returns, Emery is thought to want him as one of his 'five captains'.

The leadership group, which also features Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka - the latter is expected to receive the overall captaincy, has already lost Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey since the end of last season. The additional potential departure of Koscielny would leave it gutted.


After initially beginning the campaign as a back-up, Holding started nine consecutive Premier League games last season prior to his injury and would be expected to return an important first team role after being named in the tour squad - it is hoped he will get some vital minutes.


"I want one English player in these five captains. Last year Xhaka, Mesut and Nacho were working as captains. But after Aaron Ramsey and Petr Cech left - and possibly Laurent Koscielny - I will want more," Emery is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.

"An English player who grew up in our academy can understand the English spirit and Arsenal values. These are the qualities and more [we want]."


But while the Spanish coach has expressed a desire for an academy graduate, Holding is the English player that best fits the profile. Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson are not likely options, although the increasingly important Ainsley Maitland-Niles, just 21, is homegrown.


"We lost some players with big experience and a long time in England and Arsenal like Cech and Ramsey. We lost Koscielny too. They started one day being captain when they were young," Emery went on to explain.


"We have young players with experience, players starting for the first time to be considered as captains. (I look for) experience of leadership, being an example on and off the pitch, character and communication with the coach and other players, capacity to speak and to be there for supporters, a good connection and communication with the club."

Rob Holding

The ongoing situation with Koscielny, who refused to participate in Arsenal's summer tour over his desire to be released from his contract, is threatening to become increasingly messy.


The Sun suggests that the veteran French centre back is 'ready for a legal showdown' and is due to meet with the club's lawyers on Friday. It is claimed that Koscielny had hoped to extend his contract, only to be offered a deal that amounted to a 50% pay cut.


It is said that the soon-to-be 34-year-old was later offered a two-year contract at Bordeaux, but it required the Gunners to release him as a free agent 12 months early. Instead, Arsenal are asking for a £9m fee, which is blocking his exit.