Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles will sign his loan contract with Roma in the coming hours, reputed journalist Fabrizio Romano claims.
The 24-year-old has endured another tough campaign with the Gunners with first-team minutes hard to come by.
With Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny away on African Cup of Nations duty, it was believed that he could see more game time, but that won’t be the case.
The Gunners have decided to sanction his loan deal to Roma. The Giallorossi are expected to sign him without a buy option. A deal could be finalised later today.
Loaning out Maitland-Niles appears a strange decision. Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga are currently the only specialist senior central midfielders available.
Their immediate back-up choices could be Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe. The pair have made three appearances apiece in the centre of the park this term.
Club graduate Charlie Patino is another option for manager Mikel Arteta, but the youngster only recently made his competitive debut. He is still highly inexperienced.
With five games to be played this month, the Gunners could have delayed Maitland-Niles’ exit until the deadline, but Roma were prepared to look elsewhere in such a case.
The Gunners are not close to signing any midfielder, but they have been linked with Paris Saint-Germain’s Georgio Wijnaldum and Lille’s Renato Sanches lately.
Arteta may have to cope without Partey and Elneny until early February if Ghana and Egypt make the last four of AFCON. They are among favourites to do so.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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