Arsenal

How Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be affected by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s transfer plans

Ainsley Maitland-Niles very nearly left Arsenal in the summer.

The 24-year-old was subjected to late interest from Everton and came close to joining the club before the Gunners eventually pulled the plug on a deal in favour of keeping the Englishman at the Emirates.

It sparked a reaction from Maitland-Niles who took to Instagram to vent his frustrations: “All I want to do is go where I’m wanted & where I’m going to play @Arsenal.”

Once a regular under Mikel Arteta, the Hale End graduate has found it hard to cement a first XI position under the Spaniard since he started shaping his own squad.

He was primarily being used as a utility right-wing back and was playing well in that role, that much was emphasised by an England call-up for 2020’s September internationals.

But his stint in a more defensive role was short-lived as Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers occupied the role for much of the following season.

 

With the Gunners now favouring new signing Takehiro Tomiyasu in that position, he’s found himself in a difficult predicament once again, and it looks as though he’ll find more appearances in his more natural central midfield role than he will in defence.

That’s probably more to his liking if he was indeed promised regular game time.

At 24, he’s entering a time in his career where he really should be playing week-in-week-out but he hasn’t had that this season – so far at least.

Nevertheless, after making his first Premier League start in two months during Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Watford before the international break, the Gunners star reaffirmed his commitment to Arteta’s project.

 

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles very nearly left Arsenal in the summer.

 

The 24-year-old was subjected to late interest from Everton and came close to joining the club before the Gunners eventually pulled the plug on a deal in favour of keeping the Englishman at the Emirates.

 

It sparked a reaction from Maitland-Niles who took to Instagram to vent his frustrations: “All I want to do is go where I’m wanted & where I’m going to play @Arsenal.”

 

As football.londonreported in September, the Gunners midfielder was reminded of his responsibilities following the incident.

 

Once a regular under Mikel Arteta, the Hale End graduate has found it hard to cement a first XI position under the Spaniard since he started shaping his own squad.

 

He was primarily being used as a utility right-wing back and was playing well in that role, that much was emphasised by an England call-up for 2020’s September internationals.

 

 

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But his stint in a more defensive role was short-lived as Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers occupied the role for much of the following season.

 

With the Gunners now favouring new signing Takehiro Tomiyasu in that position, he’s found himself in a difficult predicament once again, and it looks as though he’ll find more appearances in his more natural central midfield role than he will in defence.

 

That’s probably more to his liking if he was indeed promised regular game time.

 

At 24, he’s entering a time in his career where he really should be playing week-in-week-out but he hasn’t had that this season – so far at least.

 

Nevertheless, after making his first Premier League start in two months during Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Watford before the international break, the Gunners star reaffirmed his commitment to Arteta’s project.

 

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Speaking about his comments from August after the game, he told the Daily Mail: “That’s all in the past now.

“I am just thinking about the future and what’s ahead of me. It was great to be out there today, getting my minutes and, hopefully, there’s more to come.”

He made the most of those minutes too, as he was awarded the Man of the Match award for a strong display in the middle of the park.

Still, Maitland-Niles was only handed a start as a result of Thomas Partey’s absence through muscle injury, as Arteta has favoured a midfield of Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga since Granit Xhaka’s unfortunate injury in the north London derby win over Spurs.

Whilst he’s likely to have another chance to impress against Liverpool at the weekend, especially if Partey doesn’t pass the fitness test, one start in two months is hardly good enough for a player who wants to be playing regular football.

And if the latest reports are to be believed, more midfield competition could be on its way to the Emirates in the form of Renato Sanches.

The Gunners allegedly tried to sign the Portuguese international in the summer but were dissuaded by Lille’s high evaluation of him.

However, the £27million rated midfielder (as per transfermarkt) is on Arsenal’s radar once again and are battling AC Milan for his signature, Le 10 sport claims.

Signing Sanches is understandable given Arsenal’s January worries. With Partey and Mohamed Elneny set to join up with Ghana and Egypt for their respective AFCON campaigns, the Gunners could lose two midfielders for the best part of two months, depending on how far each goes in the competition.