According to The Athletic (£), West Bromwich Albion are leading the chase to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan for the rest of the season.
The 23-year-old was the subject of a £15 million bid from Wolves in the summer, however, Mikel Arteta – impressed by a run of form that saw the Academy graduate earn his first caps for England – wouldn’t sanction the deal.
While Maitland-Niles has made 21 appearances this campaign, including 11 in the Premier League, he’s featured only sparingly since the turn of the year (102 mins out of 540) and appears to have fallen behind Cedric as back-up to Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin.
On Thursday, Arteta admitted that Maitland-Niles was worried that a lack of game time was hurting his chances of being selected by England for this summer’s European Championships and hinted that he was open to letting the player leave.
“Yeah, it’s a concern when there is international football involved as well,” said Arteta.
“After reaching that opportunity, I understand that Ainsley wants more minutes. What he needs to do is fight, train and challenge his teammates and show us that he can be one of our starters.”
West Brom are currently 19th in the Premier League and could certainly do with an injection of quality if they want to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
Whether Maitland-Niles is up for a scrap at the bottom of the table remains to be seen. He certainly has the quality to play for a better side so we expect other clubs to make approaches between now and the close of the transfer window at 11pm on Monday.
The Athletic also claimed that Ainsley “is also attracting interest from a current top-four side” which, given the story was posted before Liverpool’s win over Sp*rs, probably means West Ham (now in 5th) or Leicester. With the greatest respect to Ainsley, we can’t see Liverpool, Manchester United or Manchester City being interested.
Letting Maitland-Niles leave would certainly represent a risk for the Gunners. While his performances can be a tad erratic, his versatility could be very useful with so many games ahead.