Mikel Arteta has made it clear he likes Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and says the fact he picked him in some of the most important games this season demonstrates his faith in him.
The 22 year old started the FA Cup semi-final against Man City and the final against Chelsea, helping the Gunners secure a record 14th tournament win.
However, there have been question marks over his future, because he changed his agent – often a sign there’s something brewing – and this week Arsenal rejected an offer from Wolves for the Academy graduate.
“We are reading a lot of news about our players which is not bad that other clubs want him but with Ainsley, he’s a player that I’ve said since I joined that I really like,” said Arteta.
“The best way to show that is that I have played him in the most important games of the season and he responded really well, so that’s where we are with the player.”
Nevertheless, what Arteta wants and what the player himself might want could differ, and the Spaniard hinted that there might be behind the scenes issues to discuss.
“I am always open to listening to what the player is feeling at every stage of their career,” he continued.
“Then I can give them my opinion of how I see them, what I expect from them and if we have the right understanding, then we have to move forward together.
“If there is something that doesn’t work then we have to assess it with the player and the club and then find the right decision for both of them.”
It does sound a little as if he’s trying to convince Maitland-Niles his future lies in North London, but who knows what assurances and offers he has from elsewhere.
Those things, unfortunately, are out of our hands.