Mikel Arteta wouldn’t be drawn on the future of Ainsley Maitland-Niles but says he expects Arsenal to complete loan deals for some of his squad in the coming month.
The England international is set to spend the second half of the season at AS Roma with the Italian side, currently managed by Jose Mourinho, likely to have an option to buy the versatile midfielder in July.
Having been retained in the summer, Maitland-Niles was in and around the first team during the early months of the season but has fallen out of favour in the last six weeks.
“Any news with any player or what is happening, you know that we always keep it private and he’s our player at the moment,” said Arteta when quizzed on rumours of a Serie A move for the 24-year-old.
In light of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exile and the contract situations of Eddie Nketiah and Alex Lacazette – both are free to sign pre-contract agreements with foreign clubs from tomorrow – Arsenal have been linked with a host of strikers. There’s also set to be room on the midfield roster if Maitland-Niles and Mo Elneny, another soon to be out of contract, leave.
Given how hard it is to get value for money in the January window and with Covid complicating matters, it’s hard to imagine a big name arrival in the coming weeks.
For now, it sounds like Arteta is focused on freeing some fringe players. Folarin Balogun is a dead cert for a loan move while the likes of Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers and several academy kids are also on the hunt for temporary homes.
“We are expecting some activity because of a few players, and we have a few loans that hopefully we will have to complete,” said Arteta.
“But it depends, as we all know it’s a very complicated market, and it’s a short window, so we’ll see what happens.”