Arsene Wenger has tipped Ainsley Maitland-Niles as one of the young players who can consolidate a place in the first team squad next season under a new manager, but says he wants the 20 year old to push himself out of his comfort zone to realise his potential.
The versatile midfielder, who has played in both full back positions and at wing back, has made 27 appearances in this current campaign, and looks to be a player who really has something about him.
The Frenchman, however, feels he could do more to really ensure he makes the grade. Speaking after last night’s 3-1 defeat to Leicester Wenger was asked which players would be his tips to fight for the first team next season.
“I would say Maitland-Niles, certainly, from the young players, and Nketiah,” he said. “And then it depends who will come in – you have Willock and of course Reiss Nelson.”
“Will they get a chance or not or will they go somewhere on loan? The next manager will have to decide that after pre-season.
“Nketiah has that quality to score goals and overall I think he might get a chance very early. The two others have the quality as well.”
And on Maitland-Niles, he continued, “We all are great admirers of Ainsley’s talent and of his quality. What you want from him is for him to push himself.
“When he digs a little bit more than he naturally would like to, you will see a fantastic football player and I hope that next season will confirm that.”
Maitland-Niles provided the assist for Aubameyang’s goal last night and generally acquitted himself well from right back. Let’s hope he can push on next season.