Monday, February 26, 2024

Arsenal confirm Maitland-Niles departure

Arsenal have confirmed that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be released by the club at the end of the month.

The news doesn’t come as a shock given the 25-year-old went public with his decision back in April. He will search for a new club as a free agent having spent the last campaign on loan at Southampton.

Ainsley joined the club when he was six and worked his way up through the ranks to make his debut for Arsene Wenger in the Champions League when he was only 17. He went on to represent the club 132 times featuring in both full-back positions and in midfield.

His versatility was both a blessing and a curse. While his most fruitful spell came during the early stages of Mikel Arteta’s time in charge, he struggled to accept his role as a wing-back and made it clear on a number of occasions he was keen to leave.

After winning the FA Cup with the Gunners in 2020 and earning call-ups to the England squad, Arsenal had the chance to sell Maitland-Niles in consecutive summers to Wolves and Everton. In retrospect, turning down those offers was a bit silly.

Despite asking him to stay, he rarely started matches and ended up embarking on underwhelming half-season loans with West Brom and AS Roma.

It seems odd we didn’t try harder to flog him last summer given we knew his contract was running out. He played 27 times for Southampton this season as part of a young side that were relegated. No doubt, there will be plenty of suitors given his age and background.

In an exit interview with Arsenal.com, Ainsley said: “Words can’t describe how I’m feeling to be honest, it’s been a very emotional journey. Having supported the club growing up and coming through the ranks, I can only be happy with what I’ve achieved since I’ve been here.

“I’ve seen a lot of players come and go and played with a lot of fantastic players throughout my time here. Unfortunately, it has to come to an end, but I’ve been happy every single moment I’ve been here to play and work for this club.

“The trophy wins would probably be the best moments for me, obviously some of the domestic seasons weren’t so great but at least I got to win some trophies with the club that I love. The FA Cup final was a fantastic day that will always stick in my mind, and I was happy to be a part of the team that won it.”

Maitland-Niles is one of 13 players to be released by the club. Matt Smith, regular captain of the 21s, will count himself unlucky to be departing without a first team debut to his name. A tidy midfielder, he regularly made the subs’ bench in the last two years.

Other youngsters to leave include Zach Awe, Joel Ideho, George Lewis and Tom Smith and four scholars. The departures of Arsenal Women trio Mana Iwabuchi, Rafaelle Souza and Fran Stenson had already been confirmed.

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Jeremy

I’m going to say we really played this one poorly. 25 year old englishman with over 100 appearances across two top european leagues, 5 england caps and extremely versatile. And he goes for nothing.

John C

He should have gone when Wolves put in a bid, he was never good enough for us.

Dwd

That’s easy to say now. Back then I taught he could stop any winger.

John C

It was clear to me, he was always getting dribbled past but saved himself with his recovery pace. Top players always had his number.

Never looked good enough for me

Public Elneny

I think he could have learned if he was committed to being a full back though, most young full backs are defensively suspect and he came up through the youth ranks as a winger. And recovery pace is a great attribute to have, nothing to scoff at. Preventing an attack with pace is just as worthy as preventing it with reading of the game. Could have been really suited to the inverted LB role with a bit of practice as well But he was never going to make it here as a winger or CM or whatever he thought he… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

I never thought he was good enough to be a midfielder, which is what he wanted to be.

I did think he was a decent option at full-back, but I never saw him as a first-teamer and £20m is a lot of money (especially at the time, when we were scrounging around for enough funds to buy new players).

Crash Fistfight

In a similar way, it’s an unpopular opinion, but I think we’ll never get a better offer for Balogun than we will do this summer, so I would sell if it were down to me.

I’d also have not given those contracts to Nketiah and Nelson, because I can’t see any club that would want them being able to afford their wages (and I don’t see the benefit of them getting paid that amount to be permanent subs).

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I’m with you on Balogun. Sell with a buy back clause. Nketiah and nelson I disagree on – developing a culture is not an easy thing to do – retaining two of our own and rewarding them for loyalty with opportunity makes sense to me. It shows our youth prospects such as Nwaneri that there is a route and their loyalty will be rewarded (although in his case I suspect he’s Chelsea bound unfortunately)

Crash Fistfight

I think you can make the flip-side of that argument as well, though. If they set a precedent of caving in to the wage demands of players running down their contracts, other players might be prepared to do the same.

If it were down to me, I’d have sold both of them for whatever we could get, before it got to that stage.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I see where you’re coming from and would agree for most players – but when it comes to hale end graduates who are both talented and have the will to fight for game time (see eddies discussion with Sambi on all or nothing), I think you have to treat that differently. We’ve not caved in – we’ve paid market rates compared to what other teams would be willing to pay them to leave. Eddie is England u21s all time top scorer and got goals for us at important moments and has shown excellent attitude, drive and patience for opportunities –… Read more »

Riku

If balogan is USA striker going into next world cup held in USA , he will worth a fortune. Foresight
Which is why we should want about 40m minimum for him. They are gonna try and make a USA icon out of him.

truj

Maybe you are completely right.

Homer

Rose colored glasses.
AMN was not that strong a defender.

Crash Fistfight

Yep, I thought that at the time. Anybody saying the same at the time got down-voted to oblivion. My Whatsapp group were all of the opposite opinion, I remember.

Heavenly Chapecoense

He was part of the players I like no matter their ability on the pitch. Another example was Frimpong. Arteta did not give him the chance to build on his good run for the FA Cup win. Not blaming Arteta, he has to pick the best players for his system.
AMN said that he was ready to play wherever the manager decides to use him but people keep on saying he didn’t want to play RB.

jasonissimo

Easy to say that a player with his history shouldn’t move for free, but you are completely omitting the most important facts here and the ones you focus on lack proper context. Over 100 appearances? He’s 25, not 19. 5 England caps? None are recent. He was a squad player in 2020. He had a spot briefly and then lost his place. It happens. More importantly, the club tried–often!–to sell him when he was under contract and had some value. There was never, ever a line of willing buyers and he didn’t want to go to the one club that… Read more »

truj

It’s a sad day. Arsenal’s wasted talent.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Nooooooo.

PeeKay

There, there, we’ll always have his penalty kicks.

chuffy

Seemed to lack the mental side of the game. Consistency, determination, motivation, confidence, awareness etc.. I wonder if his mother still creates havoc for him. I know she did when he was younger.

Gooner7190

Offering Mick McCarthy outside when AMN was on loan at Ipswich probably wasn’t her best choice

SG_Gooner

hahahhaha yes i rem this news back then

Eric Blair

That’s a level of psycho-analytical summary you don’t expect to find here. For what it’s worth you’re probably right.

Rick_Sanchez

Good luck mate! I hope AMN can revive his career.

What could’ve been… I’ll never forget his penalty shots. Cold as ice.

Fezec

I have an album by Tom Smith and the Four Scholars.

Mayor McCheese

Rumour has it that all four were scholars of early modern English literature. There’s a real gap in our curriculum now!

RockyRog58

Good luck Ainsley mate ! Genuinely hope it goes well for you

Man Manny

Another one that could have fetched some fee for the club with better planning.
Best wishes.
I’ll never forget his languid style of playing penalties.

Man Manny

Meanwhile, what is happening with Ethan Nwaneri? Is the rumoured move to City still on the cards?

TeeCee

Should be worth about ten million or, translating that into the dialect spoken in the Citeh of Manchester, sixty million.

Bramble

His contract expires at the end the month. We’ll lose a top young talent and we won’t get a penny.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I’m not sure that’s true. I suspect we saw this coming and brought him on in 92nd minute vs Brentford to become youngest prem player in history to ensure we get a return at tribunal for the work we’ve put into his development to date

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Presumably he’s doing his GCSE’s this month so he’ll sign when they’re finished.

I thought players couldn’t sign a professional contract until their 17th birthday anyway – which is 9 months away for Nwaneri. So presumably it’s just a scholarship for another season.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I think his head has probably been turned by money. We won’t offer him what others are prepared to – but if we do then we will see the butterfly effect where youth team players will be demanding as much as some of our first team players. It’s a tough one – obviously you want to retain your best youth – but in an ideal world that comes from their belief that they have a route to the first team rather than instant gratification of being a very wealthy 15 year old

Bleeding Gums Murphy

If that is the case fuck the ungrateful little shit. He ain’t a player we want.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I’d like to see per mertesacker put on an appropriate helmet and with the wave of a hand tell him “this is not the way”

Badaab

they call this ‘omari hutchinson syndrome’

Daniel

Surely his “progress” at Chelsea would deter others from leaving

yes

Quick but not rapid, lacking strength both in terms of build and kicking power, and chill to the point of complacency. He’s like the skeleton of a footballer, like he has all the raw materials of a footballer bubbling under the surface but nothing to break it. If he was 17 I’d be fascinated to see what he might become, but he’s 25 now and doesn’t seem to have become anything. That said his mum seems like an albatross, I’ve never rated the guy as this comment makes clear but dealing with someone like that can’t be easy. I wish… Read more »

Mayor McCheese

Privately, I always liked Ideho.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

He reminded me of a young aliadiaire

Never Happen

My own opinion too

cagooner

Goodbye AMN and I wish you all the best. Thank you for your time here. I wish he had committed a willingness to play wherever needed and had become a solid and versatile squad player. I think that was entirely possible given his talent, academy pedigree and physical toughness. But onwards and upwards for him and the squad!

Riku

Scored at Anfield!
Motm Fa cup semi final v mam city had Mahrez in his pocket

Death by 300,000 Passes

Once Gooner, always a Gooner! Best of luck, Ains!

Merlin’s Panini

Could’ve been our right back if he had really wanted it and let Arteta improve him in that position. He didn’t, so good luck to him. I will always remember that cool as fuck penalty he scored.

Badaab

another youth team player with unfulfilled potential due to immaturity and impatience. if he had perhaps worked a little harder in the senior team instead of relying on raw talent, he might have had a career with us.

Teryima Adi

Nobody beats Maitland- Niles at taking those cool as a cucumber penalty kicks. Thanks for all your service, Bro. We wish you well in all your future endeavours.🙏🏾

Odinelli

At this age his occasional lapse in concentration and loose passing will be impossible to change. His misguided dreams of being a full time central midfielder did not come to fruition when given the opportunity here or at any other club he was at on loan. his best period was as a left wingback alongside Ramsey under Wenger. And under Mikel where he dominated the left side on the way as an unsung hero of that FA Cup. His previous loan manager was correct to say that he should take whatever position he is given under Mikel. And if he… Read more »

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