Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's Rob Holding has all the ingredients necessary to become a top centre-back, but feels the 21-year-old still has a long way to go before he can be seen as one of football's top defenders.
After being consigned to the substitutes' bench for much of the campaign, Holding, who joined the Gunners from Bolton Wanderers for £2.5m (€2.9m) last summer, has impressed in recent weeks since being deployed in a new three-at-the-back formation, and Wenger believes the England youth international is a very interesting prospect who could flourish with more first-team experience.
"The fans are always speedy but they know football and they can understand very quickly if the potential of a player is there," Wenger told Arsenal Player. "From the potential to becoming a top star is a long way to go, and that is based on motivation, intelligence and desire, but I'm sure that Rob has the positive ingredients for that.
"He's good in the air, calm on the ball, has a good reading of the game and I think he's a very complete centre back who will have a good mixture of being a good defender and also very good on the ball. He still has to gain experience and the central role is a bit more of a decisive one, so I use him a bit more on the flank. He's a very interesting prospect."
Holding, who endured a rather unsuccessful loan spell at Bury a couple of seasons ago, has not been a permanent fixture in Arsenal's first team this season but has still managed to make 15 appearances in all competitions, and will be hoping to maintain his place in the team under Wenger when Arsenal attempt to salvage their season at Wembley Stadium in the FA Cup Final against title-winning Chelsea on 27 May.