Ainsley Maitland-Niles hasn’t had a bad birthday.
First, he was named man-of-the-match in Arsenal’s Community Shield win over Liverpool and soon afterwards he was rewarded for his performance with a first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
Fielded at Wembley as a left wing-back once again – the position he did so well in the FA Cup wins over Manchester City and Chelsea – the 23-year-old produced a tactically astute performance on and off the ball.
He even slotted home a penalty in the shootout as the Gunners won 5-4 following a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
Maitland-Niles, an under-17 World Cup winner, has been heavily linked with a move to Wolves in recent days with reports suggesting we turned down a bid around the £15 million mark.
Given his form, surely the club has to be thinking twice about parting with a versatile player who is brimming with confidence and delivering the goods.
After the match, he told BT Sport, “I’m an Arsenal player until I’m told otherwise. My heart is in the club and whilst I’m here, I’m going to give 100 per cent every time.”
England face Iceland and Denmark in the Nations League before the Premier League gets going on 12 September. We wish Ainsley all the best.