Mikel Arteta says Ainsley Maitland-Niles does have a future at Arsenal and that he’s not fielded the versatile midfielder as much as he might have wanted recently.
While the boss said last month that he’s been pleased with the way the 22-year-old reacted to being dropped in February, Maitland-Niles has still only played 82 minutes since football returned last month.
Earlier this week, David Ornstein wrote in The Athletic that the England under-21 international will now look to leave the Emirates in the summer having grown frustrated with his lack of opportunities.
While coy on the details of the report, Arteta was glowing in his endorsement of Maitland-Niles’ qualities and versatility but did call for more consistency.
“No, I didn’t discuss the reports with him, first of all, because I don’t read them,” said the boss.
“I spoke with the players about how they are feeling and how can we help them.
“He’s a player that can play in many different positions, we have discussed the things that in my opinion that he can improve or adopt to his game.
“He has incredible quality, he has every quality that you need as a footballer to play at the highest level. He needs to do it a little bit more consistently but he’s one that can adapt to any position.”
Pressed on whether he sees Maitland-Niles being part of his squad next season, he added: “Yes, maybe he didn’t play as much as I wanted him to play. But I played him in many different positions in some very important games as well.”
Arteta also confirmed that he’s keen on extending Dani Ceballos’ stay at the Emirates and that conversations are taking place with Real Madrid.
“That is a conversation that we are having to see what we can do in the future with him,” said Arteta.
“I’m really happy with the progress and how much he’s improving and how much he’s giving to the club as well.
“I always put the example that he’s a loan player but when you see his celebrations for every goal, the way he trains, how much he cares, his fighting. I’m really happy with him.”