Arsenal have confirmed that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will spend the 2022/23 season on loan with Southampton.
The England international moves to Saint Mary’s in search of more football after a disjointed couple of years at the Emirates that has included stints with West Bromwich Albion and AS Roma.
Before heading off, Maitland-Niles’ contract has reportedly been extended by a year to protect his value. Should he impress Ralph Hasenhüttl, the Saints will have an option to buy the 24-year-old.
Arsene Wenger handed Maitland-Niles his senior debut for the Gunners as a 17-year-old back in 2014 but had to wait three years to properly establish himself during the Frenchman’s final season in charge.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) September 1, 2022
While he didn’t have a specialist position, his versatility was seen as a boon and the club awarded him a new contract in 2018. Despite an early season leg break, he played 30 times in Unai Emery’s first season, predominantly as cover for the injured Hector Bellerin.
Under Mikel Arteta he developed as a left wing-back and played a starring role as the Gunners secured the FA Cup at the end of the pandemic hit 2019/20 season. His performances earned him a call-up to the England squad.
That should have been the foundation on which to build himself a solid Arsenal career but it hasn’t panned out that way. Unconvinced about playing in defence, he fell out of favour and then had his head turned by opportunities elsewhere. When moves to Wolves and Everton fell through in consecutive summers, it was clear he wasn’t happy.
Hopefully this time it works out for him.
In total, Ainsley has made 132 appearances for the Gunners making eight assists and scoring three goals.