Monday, February 27, 2023

Arsenal: £68k-a-week star has 'never wanted to leave' the Emirates

Arsenal right-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles could still have a future at the Emirates Stadium, despite having been shipped out on loan over the last few seasons, journalist Paul Brown has suggested to GiveMeSport.

The 25-year-old is currently plying his trade at Southampton on a temporary basis.

After having signed on a season-long loan for Southampton during the last summer transfer window’s Deadline Day, you could be forgiven for assuming that Maitland-Niles’ Arsenal career was reaching an unremarkable conclusion.

The Gunners’ youth product has been sent out on temporary spells to West Bromwich Albion and Roma over the past two years and another move to the south coast could well have been the final straw for his future with the north London outfit.

Mikel Arteta’s side have performed well in Maitland-Niles’ absence, with Arsenal currently at the summit of the Premier League, whilst also securing their qualification for the last-16 of the Europa League.

But Brown believes that the Spanish head coach will need a bigger squad next season and could see the £68,000 per-week earner coming back and making “a fist of it” as he looks to prove his worth at the Emirates Stadium.

What has Brown said about Arsenal and Maitland-Niles?

Brown told GiveMeSport: “I think he’s still got a chance. He’s never really wanted to leave Arsenal but has been kind of forced to go out and find game time a couple of times now.

“It’s not impossible that he comes back and makes a fist of it. I do think next season Arsenal are going to need a bigger squad and to call on more players than they have this year.

“So, I’ve got a feeling he will come back, and they’ll take a look at him and Arteta will make a call based on what he sees in training. I think he’s going to get a chance to be reintegrated.”

How has Maitland-Niles performed this season?

Maitland-Niles would have liked to have seen more first-team action during his loan move to Southampton, with the south coast outfit currently sitting bottom of the Premier League at the time of writing.

The five-cap England international has played in a variety of different positions across 17 appearances for the Saints but is yet to hit the back of the net or provide an assist as of yet.

The 5 foot 10 star compares favourably in a defensive sense to his positional peers, ranking in the top 4% of midfielders across Europe’s big five leagues as well as the Champions League and Europa League for blocks (1.77) and top 3% for clearances per 90 minutes (3.25) over the last 365 days, according to FBref.

Therefore, it’s clear that Maitland-Niles still has something to offer, and his versatility could be a very useful option for Arteta next season, with the Spaniard likely to be balancing Premier League and Champions League football.

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