Via David Ornstein in The Athletic (£) comes news that Ainsley Maitland-Niles feels it’s time for him to leave Arsenal this summer.
It’s news that won’t come as a massive surprise, given how little he’s been involved under Mikel Arteta – he’s started just one game since the restart, although he did have an impressive cameo against Wolves 10 days ago.
That came when he replaced Kieran Tierney at left-back, but the writing has been on the wall since the arrival of Cedric Soares from Southampton given he played so much of his football on the right hand side.
It was erroneously reported that he had refused to play as a defender, in truth he simply expressed his preference for his favourite position in midfield or as a winger.
However, last week he insisted he’d play wherever he was picked, saying, “Obviously I do prefer playing central midfield but that is not to say I don’t want to play right-back or that I’m not going to do the job there if the manager asks me to.
“If the manager says to me ‘Ains you gotta go in goal this game I will put the gloves on and I am ready to rock n roll’.”
It’s a great attitude, but the report states he feels he now needs to leave to get regular playing time to develop his career.
The 22 year old has made 28 appearances this season, with a goal and two assists to his name, and is closing in on 100 first team appearances for the Gunners.
With a contract until 2023, he’s also a sellable asset, hopefully with some of that English premium, and if he does go let’s hope whatever money we receive is reinvested sensibly.
Spending on big wages for a couple of seasons of 31 year old Willian (who turns 32 next month but until then remains 31 because that’s how it works), wouldn’t be seen as building for the future.
Maitland-Niles recently changed his agent, a sign that a player is trying to make a change in his career, and it’s the same one who represented Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in his move from Arsenal to Liverpool.