Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ loan spell at West Brom will end next week, and the 23 year old will return to Arsenal with his future uncertain.

Part of the reason for his January departure was in order to play more regularly in midfield, an opportunity he was not granted often, if at all, by Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners boss preferred him in defensive positions, and after working with him for a few months, Baggies boss Sam Allardyce has urged Maitland-Niles not to let opportunities at Arsenal pass him by because of a reluctance to play where he’s needed.

“Ainsley’s given us everything he has got,” said Allardyce.

“He came to join the fight – you have to admire that – he knew my idea was to play him where he wanted to play and where he’s always wanted to play – in midfield.

“Arsenal have got many talented midfield players. I can see why it’s been difficult for him. It’s very competitive in there.

“That’s why he’s been played more as a full-back. If I were him, I’d play wherever the manager picked me, and I’d never turn it down because if you are able to play in a number of positions, then you are going to get more games than if you had one position and one position only.

“Perhaps you don’t want to be tagged as a utility player but sometimes those people are played more often than those who are stubborn and say, ‘I want to play in that position and nowhere else.'”

What’s next for Maitland-Niles seems unclear, although there could well be an opportunity next season.

He has all the attributes to be a modern full-back, and with Hector Bellerin apparently on the way out, Cedric now fourth choice in that position, and Calum Chambers with just a year left on his contract, maybe there’s a chance for him to stake a claim … if he wants it.

It’s also a bit disconcerting that Allardyce has made this much sense, but he does have a good point.

Let’s see what happens this summer.

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ParteyPants

Genuinely think he might be our best right back.

Would love it to work out that way and have another Hale End kid own a spot in the XI.

Vaibhav Pandey

His control over the ball is contentious and lacking a clear cutting edge required form elite player. Unless he accepts versatility, he will be in the shop window unfortunately.

ParteyPants

Collectively we need to move beyond the idea that we’re going to have a couple of “elite players” in every position. We’re not in Europe and we’re broke. What can do though is be smart and try to improve in every position and AMN could just do that at RB next season.

Sachin

Bang on. We need to embrace the new Arsenal – bereft of all superiority complexes – and learn to first fight for our place. There’s no Wenger ball anymore. No Golden Ball nominees. No World Cup winners. No Galacticos on loan. No big paydays for has-beens. No Pep protege airs. No entitled fans. We need to learn from Leicester, not Real Madrid. AMN doesn’t come at added cost, knows the team, is a hard worker. Arteta would be stupid to not do better with the likes of him, Chambers, Willock, Saliba, Nelson and others. And if Arteta can’t build with… Read more »

Dave

We’re not broke.

Scwibble

We have a lot of talented… Arsenal has a lot of… is he taking the piss?

karl

He is right that we do have a lot of talent. It is more like the application that is lacking.

Just look at what Joe Willock has done after going on loan, but he seemed inhibited at the Emirates.

Scwibble

We’ve all been around to see cazorla, wilshere, rosicky, ramsey, ozil etc. When you go from that to this…

Heavenly Chapecoense

List should have started with Fabregas.

Dave Cee

Vieira

Qwaliteee

Brady

Goonerrific

Rocastle, Thomas

Qwaliteee

What does that tell you….?

Example: Thomas Partey – one of the best defensive midfielders in the game, great at winning the ball and immediately setting up an attacking opportunity.

Joins Arsenal, promptly retreats into his shell and is conspicuous for his frustrated hit and hope shots and panic inducing 40 yard back passes to the goalkeeper……

canon fodder

Apparently, some of his balls have ended on on Mars. He really does need t improve on his shooting. Liverpool’s goalkeeper has scored more goals than him this season!

Jack

I haven’t watched many WBA games but I know he’s been in that preferred CM role -can anyone tell me if he’s been any good for them?

Matthinc

He has, broadly. Regularly been top of their player ratings

nullvinho

Not really.. he’s been very average at least on Whoscored, even compared to the rest of their midfield.

Bleeding gums murphy

He was shocking in one game I saw.

Moxrex

These were his ratings based on positions: Position Matches Rating MC 12 6.53 Sub 9 6.08 DML 5 6.65 DL 2 7.26 DMR 2 7.2 DM 1 7.01 (One assist) DR 1 6.78 IMO – His low performance as substitute shows that he is tactically inflexible because he takes time to understand the situation. But he is brilliant when he has a tactical plan to work on as was on display when he played against the MC and Chelsea teams last season. But he is not a Central Midfielder or an advanced midfielder. He is someone who can sit deep… Read more »

karl

He has been better than our partners for Partey in the games I saw.

Dave Cee

Very true, AMN or Ceballos? Easy choice for me

loose_cannon

He’s been very decent for them, though obviously hasn’t made the same kind of explosive impact as Willock at Newcastle.

ChickPEA

Yes I would be more interested to try Willock than AMN, even though i fear none of them might be the kind of partner Partey needs.

loose_cannon

Maybe Partey doesn’t need a partner as such? Both Willock and AMN have been playing in 3 man midfields for the most part. It wouldn’t be outrageous for Arteta to consider a 4-3-3 if he had the right players available, with Partey at the base of midfield.

Dr. kNOw

433 is the future, and should be the prism through which we look at the squad when making assessments. The weak spot is at 6. Bissouma is a must; Elneny is backup but with one year left may be sold. This is AMN’S midfield shot and a Kalvin Phillips type. It’s definitely not at 8, where Arsenal have a number of options: Partey, ESR, possibly Willock and even Saka. What’s worse, AMN simply doesn’t have the chops to pull it off at top 6 level. Loose technically and Currently, he has more chance there than at fullback. If Aaron’s turns… Read more »

loose_cannon

You see Partey as an 8 instead of a 6? He can do both but I would have thought 6 makes more sense.

Scored at the Clock End

6 is a centre half. Surely you mean 4

Stiz

My concern with Bissouma is that when the African Cup of Nations is played mid season we lose both him and Partey for 6 weeks mid season

No foot Norbert

Wasn’t partey a box to box at athletico though

loose_cannon

Maybe? Whenever I watched him for Atletico Madrid, he played for defensively than that. Of course, that might be more because of Simeone and the types of games he was playing in. He certainly seems capable of playing as an 8 but I think he’s our best current 6 option.

Pea14

Believe that is Saul role

Qwaliteee

He was. A very good box to box. Could still be a very good box to box – if he didn’t have to play LEGOball.

Andy

as allardyce says he has done well but not contributed a lot in terms of goals and assists even though he is one of their attacking midfielders. for number 8 i think willock is better than AMN and i don’t even think willock is good enough to start for us there regularly.

SarcasmB0t

But we don’t have a lot of talented midfielders, do we?

In the positions he’d be competing for, we have Partey who’s underperformed, then we have Elneny, Xhaka, and a guy on loan.

Not exactly Pep’s Barcelona there.

viegunner

he’s a solid option at RB and as he’s shown at Brom a solid one at CM. i like elneny and chambers but wouldn’t it be more logical to cash in on either than on AMN?

Heavenly Chapecoense

Arteta played with El Neny and Chambers under Wenger. As MA does everything based on who he likes more, guess who will be sold.

Canadagoon

AMN will bring in a lot more funds than an Elneny sale would

Public Elneny

Yeah but the drop in quality from Pep’s Barca to our set of midfielders is still about equal to that from ours to Sawyers/Livermore etc

I think he can do a bit better than Wet Brom as a starting CM, but I still think he’s limited to lower half clubs if he doesn’t play at RB. I think it’s a little weird to identify with a position so much as to limit your career like that

Perfectly happy to have him back competing for the starting RB slot, as long as he’s got the CM thing out of his system

Finsbury Park Gooner

I like this guy and would love to see him back in an Arsenal shirt again. But on a slightly different note, how did Cedric manage to fall out of favour so far and so fast? Bar one or two games where the whole team looked bad, I thought he did pretty well at RB?

Mick Malthouse

Agreed. He only struggled at left back which he shouldn’t be playing.

OurTitA

But even so he had a few decent games at LB. He does send in some good crosses from either sides. I’m baffled as to why he’s been dropped.

Daveo

Maybe he was not trying hard enough, but of course was trying hard enough.

Vonnie

I think he’s regressed to his level, he was never played and backup at Southampton for a reason, played out of his skin when given a chance and now back to his level. He’s the sort of signing who’s been a waste of a squad place and I hope to God we don’t bring in Bertrand who’d be his match on the other side. Most free transfers always end up costing more than they’re worth.

gooner

Full Portuguese international and judging him by the games he’s played at right back for us he’s been unlucky to be that far down the pecking order.

Judging by the way he came to our club though, he should be crucified tomorrow as he’s the worst footballer ever

Toni

Or maybe Arteta catches feelings too easily and is just being acting up? Hopefully not.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Do you watch games or do you specialize in writing comments?

allezkev

I’ve never seen Soares as anymore than a squad player, I don’t think he’s as bad or that great, he’s just an average journeyman who has a decent cross from right back, gets stuck in but whose iffy at left back and suffers from his connection to Kia.

Bertrand is the same but I’d prefer that we went out and got a young up and coming left back maybe from the Championship like Buchanan from Derby.

SarcasmB0T

“…suffers from his connection to Kia” Benefits, not suffers. I agree that he’s an average journeyman we signed as a squad player. You don’t give a player like that a 5-year contract. Not at his age. We also gave him a raise over what he’d been earning at Southampton (I guess cause there was so much competition). Oh, and let us not forget that we paid possibly a million or more for the privilege of having him come on loan and not play, apparently because the player had asked for it (still not sure how we’d have known that without… Read more »

Joy

It was the pass that played Gabriel into trouble in the 90th minute of the Slavia Prague game that let them in for the equaliser. Don’t think he’s played since

bored

To be fair, he paired with Willian on the left, meaning he had to defense alone while also overlapping on offense. We can cut him some slack if he got tired near the end of the game and made some bad decisions.

santi's thigh grab

This is the correct answer. Hasn’t seen the pitch since.

Goodly morning

Imagine if the board would ruthlessly hold Arteta to such high standards. He’d be long gone.

Carlos

Shoot! Was looking for this comment before posting my own of similar confusion! I don’t get the dropping. Especially as arteta seemed to have shown him so much love ( that hug post match comes to mind)

LoL. I wouldn’t put too much weight into Arteta’s cuddles. A quick Google search will show you pictures of Mikel in a warm embrace with: AMN, Guendouzi, Özil & Torreira. All of them became fringe players shortly after.

Evidently he’s learnt well from his mentor Pep, to put on a good show for the cameras.

Ironically there seems to be no pictures of Arteta bear-hugging Willian. Yet we all know…😂😂😂

Magneto

I don’t know if what you write is true (about the cuddles thing), but if it is, it’s an interesting observation.

Just have a look for yourself if you want.

I truly think Arteta could make a career for himself in politics if he pursued it enough. The man has the mannerisms of a Clinton.

FMT

Yeah…strange how he is fourth choice RB behind nobody

Andy

cedric was definitely our best rb this season imho. no idea why arteta went for chambers over him when he decided to bin bellerin.

Namesake

Maybe it’s not about Cedric at all and it’s the fact that Chambers came back to full fitness and is a more tactically flexible, taller and overall better player than Cedric

Hank Scorpio

AMN at right back would be one less thing to address in what could be a tricky transfer window given most teams won’t have a lot to spend but at the same token with money tight, they’ll likely want top dollar. Couple that with the volume of turnover required to reshape the squad and any viable internal solutions we can find can only make things easier.

Mcheza

If he isn’t committed to it and there’s no room for him in his preferred position we should move him on. Let him persue his dreams. Let us make some money. He’ll be a good box to box midfielder but he’s first touch, concentration and stemmed growth has not been great.

Love his penalties though 🥶

Heavenly Chapecoense

Concentration is the big problem he has.

LEFT08

Clear the air talks with Arteta, new contract, fight for a place in the team. More importantly though: kroenkeout

shokim

For once Big Sam is talking sense. There might be a spot for AMN when he returns given our potential summer clear out.

Non - flying dutchman

Sams planning for when he takes over the reins half way through next season ;-D

Mcheza

Made me chuckle. He’d join the relegation fight and save us just to get fired after new owners come in when fans go crazy and burn down the Emirates.

RuminatingGoons

Allardyce making sense is the news here.
That apart, would like to see a pairing of Partey and AMN in mid in pre-season.

Hank Scorpio

All hindsight but Elneny & Ceballos as back-up was a wasted opportunity. AMN & Willock would have been far more sensible and given our current position unlikely to have been detrimental

Gunnerboreus

I quite like AMN and think he’s got something. Doesn’t his position – like many others – come down to what we get offered in the market? If someone offers £10-15 million, we take it. If not, we don’t. Same goes for Willock but I wouldn’t let him go for less than £20m.

Admittedly others, like Nketiah, who just can’t make it at the top end of the PL – go regardless of price

Non - flying dutchman

I could see Nketiah doing a job for a team like Watford… get a blooming price for him… id value AMN higher too given his value to us ie, if it was he standing in for Tierney, i think wed be in the final.

Mcheza

Hadn’t thought of it but you are right. AMN as cover would not only have us in the final but we wouldn’t have lost some silly games in there and likely xhaka wouldn’t be injured.

Gunnerboreus

Hi guys – I agree with your comments. Hadn’t thought of him playing LB vs Villareal. We surely would have gone through.

Andy

i look at AMN and think where he could be in 2-3 years with regular gametime and continued improvement. he could be worth a lot more than 10-15m. and he has come through the club. i would do my best to keep him in the squad next season as long as he is willing to accept playing where he is asked. everybody else does – even xhaka, who has way more experience and reputation than AMN.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

This is a make or break season for him. He has a big opportunity to become first choice right back for Arsenal

Snc

Never thought I’d agree with Fat Sam.

loose_cannon

Could easily be our first choice RB next season, if he wants to be.

Vonnie

There are very few players that it hurts when they leave. Last year it was Emi, this year it could be Ainsley. I really hope he can stay and be our go to man, at right back and in midfield, he’s one of us and he’s no worse than Ceballos, doesn’t lose the ball more than Partey and is the best at marking his man out of the game.There has to be a space for him surely? I really hope that he and Mikel can sort something out, I don’t ever want to see him playing against us.

Dondada

We should sell him while his stock is high.. he’s not good enough for us in any position as a starter. Its also clear he hates playing as a fullback or wingback.

Heavenly Chapecoense

AMN already said that wasn’t true and stated he was ready to play anywhere the manager wants him to. Arteta starved him of games and when he got an opportunity and was very rusty, he threw him under the bus, publicly.

Biggles

Difficult, as he usually appears on the list of players that Arsenal will attempt to sell in the summer. Who knows though. If money is generally tight, as expected, then more reliance on talented youngsters will be the way to go. It all depends on whether he can make an impression when given the chance (assuming he is given a chance, of course).

Fuzz

lacks end product, hate to say it but should have accepted the £20m from Wolves

Der32

Why? So Kroenke can line his pockets and invest in an even worse replacement? I struggle to see any better utility player who would want to join our sinking ship with that budget. At least Ainsley is a player from within our ranks and should care more about the club.

StuArse

I think if we get the right sized offer, just about everyone in the squad will be up for sale. After all, the club have said we have Champions League wages on a (not even) Europa League budget. We also need to sell to be able to re-invest. Having said that, it’ll mean Edu and Arteta will need to be creative. Could AMN be a midfield option LANS next season for instance? What would your priority signings this summer be? Mine would be LB, CM and then depending on sales, RB and CF. I also don’t think Arteta has the… Read more »

Biggles

Good post. Further cuts to the wage bill will almost certainly be required. We didn’t earn a fortune from the EL (compared to the CL anyway) but the money was very useful nevertheless. We offloaded (paid off, really) some big earners in January but assuming we don’t get European football next season things will still be tight. Trimming the squad further, if we can, and promoting youngsters is probably the way to go (as well as bringing in a few new players).

Heavenly Chapecoense

Are you still counting on the new european Carabao cup?

Heavenly Chapecoense

CF for me, that’s where we failed completely this season.

Give youth a chance

Priority signings for me will depend on who leaves. Defensively, we’re in pretty decent shape and just need cover for KT. In the middle, we need a partner for Partey.

Up front, we have a wealth of options, even if we assume lacazette leaves. A new signing would mean we see less of Martinelli and Balogun. Trust them to deputise for Auba, with Nketiah probably going on loan.

I’m still interested in the rumour that Ramsey would be open to a return home from Italy, possibly bringing Chesney with him if Leno moves on

Zet

Good honest advice..Take it Niles

SB Still

AMN could easily have a career like James Milner not the number of clubs he played for but the number of positions.

It’s his choice but two examples I would point out is Milner and Walcott.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Walcott, that laughable guy, he wanted to be CF and the year Wenger put him ahead of Giroud, he panicked after four games and wanted back on the wing.
However, the number of goals he scores from the wing means he was factually better than Saka.

Dave Cee

Theo scored about 10 goals a season on average, I’d wager that Saka can end up doing that whilst also tackling, keeping the ball in play, continuing the flow of attacks etc. Theo plateaued at an early age and should have been moved on much sooner than he was, horribly frustrating player

Qwaliteee

2015 FA Cup Final.

I don’t seem to recollect him panicking that day…..

Graeb

He could be the Ray Parlour of our 20s team – not the best level of skill but commitment galore wherever he played. AMN needs to show the desire to prove himself and not listen to any agents

TheG

Big Sam is just giving his last bit of Preimer League advice.

Badaab

Fat sam is getting sentimental in his old age

Filsuf

Has he fixed his concentration issues?

Carlos

Wait, when did Cedric fall to fourth choice? Did he flop hard in a game that I apparently missed?! He was battling out with bellerin all season, I just thought he lacked match fitness/ had a light injury these last few games where chambers has taken over.

santi's thigh grab

Silvia Prague.

Daveyboy

Is Big Sam is angling for a job just after Christmas next season…?

Andy

he would be going to the euros with england if he had stayed with us. he is an average midfielder with some room to improve but he is an excellent wing back. he should swallow his ego and claim the right back spot in the squad for next season.

Jack4343

The big fat head is right. If he embraced his versatility he’d easily fit into the 18 of just about every top team in the league. He’s an excellent player to have in the squad. I get that he wants to play in the 11 each week in his favored position and that is admirable but I’m not sure he’s at that level for a team that aspires to be one of the top 6. He has great athleticism and pace but tends to be way too casual and careless on the ball in a part of the pitch where… Read more »

Tasmanian Jesus

He would be my first choice at right back, if he wants to play there. If he wants to play midfield, it will be for a team like WBA.

What did Cedric do wrong to be last choice? To me, he’s been better than Bellerin this season.

Dave Cee

So has Chambers. Bellerin is another one who we have held onto for far too long.

Graeb

…and promptly left him out of team to play Scousers.

Gunner08

Next season him and Teirney playing the full backs. I think he’s better than bellerin and I sure wish we never sent him out on loan in the first place

SB Still

Off-topic:

We now need Spuds, West Ham and Everton to lose 2 games each. We can qualify for Europe but importantly St. Totteringham’s Day after many years.

btw

Draw 1 and lose 1 is enough

Moxrex

He should become our James Milner. Look how Milner has had a wonderful carrier with limited skillset. Hard work pays off, ANM need to do the same.

Santori

I don’t think he is good enough frankly and we should sell him. In midfield, we need to be adding someone IMO. Partey is still work in progress (I don’t know why people like to wank off to players as the new Viera just bc he is black and tall) Xhaka has been good this season but he will likely be sold in a season down if anything. IMO we should get a bid in for Ruben Neves at Wolves now with Wanderers without Europe. We need better control of midfield still. Willock hopefully we keep can take over from… Read more »

Santori

What I mean is if wedo not consider him at fullback, we should sell him.