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Ainsley Maitland-Niles must leave Arsenal on loan to prove his worth


Just six months ago, Ainsley Maitland-Niles lined up for Arsenal in an FA Cup final at left-back. Today he’s heavily linked with a loan to leave Emirates Stadium in search of regular football.

How did it come to this?

He made his Premier League debut at the age of 17 in December 2014 under Arsene Wenger, and to date the 23-year-old has made 121 appearances for the first team.

More often than not, Maitland-Niles has been deployed as a full-back or a winger, although the player himself has insisted throughout his career that his strongest position be in midfield. The opportunities to play there in the Gunners’ red and white have been scarce, and that’s probably one of the main reasons he’s become frustrated with life in North London.

Under Mikel Arteta, before this positive form, the team had struggled to find the right balance in midfield. But even during these difficult times, the Spaniard was unwilling to give the England international a chance and he now feels that moving away from the player would be the best solution for all parties.

Kieran Tierney’s recent injury issues forced the boss to make changes to the left-back, and when Sead Kolasinac left for Schalke in January, you could have been forgiven for thinking Maitland-Niles would have a sideways run. . However, after a below-par performance against Crystal Palace, Cedric Soares has since been tasked with replacing the former Celtic man, and Maitland-Niles hasn’t taken a look.

During the summer transfer window he was the subject of a £ 15million offer from Wolverhampton Wanderers but the offer was rejected with reports suggesting the Gunners were looking for something more close to £ 20million (according to Sky Sports).

Mikel arteta
Arteta used Maitland-Niles sparingly | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

While it may seem like the only reason Arsenal turned down the offer was that their Premier League rivals failed to meet the player’s assessment, I would say Maitland-Niles turned out to be collateral damage to the team’s tactical evolution under Arteta.

As a full-back in a full-back, it could certainly be argued that the player was not as efficient as when he played as a full-back, and therefore the decision made by the coach of add another midfielder and go astray. away from the system which saw Arsenal win a record 14th FA Cup has had a direct impact on Maitland-Niles.

In the past, there have been questions surrounding the player’s attitude, but in his defense, Arteta has never given us any indication that he is not happy with his conduct or his candidacy. Perhaps by the time Arsenal were approached by Wolves, the Gunners boss really felt that Maitland-Niles would prove to be an asset to the side.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Andros Townsend, Joel Ward
Maitland-Niles’ latest start came against Crystal Palace | Pool / Getty Images

But due to the change in tactical direction, the player found himself in excess of the UAE’s needs. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of interest in the youngster – Premier League clubs with Leicester, Southampton, West Brom and Newcastle are all linked with a Maitland-Niles loan.

In order to realize his undoubted potential and have the opportunity to play at his preferred position, it looks like he will have to move on. As mentioned, Maitland-Niles feels like the unfortunate victim of a tactical adjustment that most fans would agree was simply necessary.