WANDERERS have rejected Arsenal’s opening offer for defender Rob Holding and will dig in their heels for £7million.

The Bolton News understands the Gunners submitted a bonus-heavy offer £2million, rising to nearly £5million at the end of last week.

Holding was withdrawn from the squad at Fulham to protect him from injury and now looks certain to leave the Macron Stadium this summer.

But the Whites are well aware a queue of big clubs have formed behind Arsenal to take the 20-year-old defender and are in no rush to accept offers despite their relegation to League One.

Celtic, Everton and Bournemouth have watched Holding heavily in the last few months as he scooped the club’s player-of-the-year award in his first season at senior level.

Gareth Southgate could also select him for the England Under-21 squad which will play in the Toulon Tournament at the end of May. The Young Lions party will be announced on Thursday.

Speaking to The Bolton News last week, Holding said a call-up would cap off an incredible season on a personal level.

“I have just tried to keep doing what I am doing and if people are impressed by me and my performances are going well, then great,” he said.

“If he (Southgate) gets in touch with me then I’d be more than happy to represent my country.

“I have got time. You see lots of players not represent the Under-21s and then all of a sudden they are in the senior squad.

“And being a centre half I have got lots more time for that.”

Speculation over his future had not quite hit the levels it has in the last few days but Holding says he does his best to ignore the headlines written about him.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “If it a move is going to happen, it will happen and that’s the case for anyone’s career.

“The stories and headlines are something you see, of course, but I play for Bolton so that’s all I can think about.”

Holding also paid tribute to fellow defender David Wheater for helping him through his first senior campaign.

“He has been a massive influence on me,” he said. “He’s like a brick wall, you can’t get past him. And when a game gets down and dirty and you just need someone to go and head the ball, there’s no-one better.”