Arsenal have informed Ainsley Maitland Niles he can leave the club this summer, according to the Telegraph.
Ainsley Maitland Niles started Mikel Arteta’s first five Premier League games as Arsenal head coach but lost his place in the team in January 2020 and barely featured for the next few months. Arteta said the Englishman needed to put his head down in training and work hard. The Gunners boss wanted Maitland Niles to show him that he wanted and deserved a place in the starting XI more than anybody else.
In an exclusive piece published in June, Gooner Talk revealed that the player had appointed British agent Aidy Ward as his new representative. Ward represents the likes of Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Leon Bailey. It seemed like the player was preparing to leave Arsenal and understandably wanted to land the best possible move.
The 22 year old continued to take his place on the bench when the Premier League restarted in June and got minimal first team action. In a surprising move, Arteta brought Maitland Niles on as a second half substitute in a massive game for the Gunners against Wolves at Molineux. He replaced Tierney with one message from his boss – man mark Adama Traore out of the remainder of this game. He performed that task admirably and Arsenal won the game 2-0.
Arteta shocked Arsenal fans by starting Maitland Niles at left wing back in the FA Cup semi final against Manchester City. The Gunners went into that game as severe underdogs and the expectation was that it would be a routine win for the Citizens. The North London side stunned City and won the game 2-0. Many Arsenal players put in immense performances but Maitland Niles was truly heroic. He kept Mahrez silent the whole game and did his job to perfection.
The whole view of Maitland Niles changed after the semi final and a player who had been seen as relatively expendable was suddenly somebody the club needed to hold onto. The 22 year old has blown hot and cold throughout his time at Arsenal but is clearly very talented and this is reflected in the way Arsenal fans discuss the player. Arteta was full of praise for the player and lauded his versatility as a massive asset.
He started the FA Cup final against Chelsea and put in another memorable performance as the Gunners won the game 2-1. He defended admirably and attacked with purpose. In the years to come, Maitland Niles’ name will come up a lot whenever anybody discusses FA Cup number 14 for Arsenal.
Football has a short memory and just days after Arsenal’s heroic FA Cup victory, it seems the club has decided that the Englishman will be allowed to leave the club this summer. A few months ago, rumours emerged that the player wanted to leave because he felt he did not have the trust of the head coach. More recently, he has talked about how much belief the players have in the project and how bright the future will be. It looks like he is at risk of not being part of Arsenal’s future.
Mikel Arteta is believed to be keen on keeping the player but understands that the club must raise funds in what is a turbulent financial environment. The Gunners are intent on improving the team in the upcoming transfer window and are facing the economic consequences of the pandemic which has forced them to make 55 people at the club redundant.
The player has attracted interest from Brighton and Everton in the past. Tottenham could be looking for a new full back in the near future and his name could come up. He has three years remaining on his deal and Arsenal will hope to receive a fee in excess of £20 million for a player that is a graduate of the academy and has made 100 appearances for the club.