Chris Sutton has urged Arsenal not to sell versatile man Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who he describes as a ‘diamond’.
The 23 year-old has just been called up to Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad ahead of the upcoming UEFA Nations League ties, and could well find himself given a starting role on the left side of the defence.
This call-up has come amidst speculation that the club are attempting to offload him, but with Maitland-Niles having been given a key role in the FA Cup semi-final, final and the Community Shield, and with him impressed in each, you would be forgiven for not believing those reports.
The latest paper talk is that Arsenal are considering a U-turn on their ‘decision’, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was never offered out at all.
Regardless of my thoughts on the latest, Chris Sutton has called for Arsenal to keep our former academy product, claiming he could well be an upgrade on Hector Bellerin, as well being more than able to fill in in various other roles.
“Maybe he feels he will be guaranteed better game time at Molineux. But it’s good to hear Arsenal are considering a transfer U-turn after his performance against Liverpool,” Sutton told his column at the DailyMail.
“He is such a versatile talent, a diamond, and I do believe Mikel Arteta trusts him. You don’t start against Liverpool here, or in the FA Cup semi-final and final against Manchester City and Chelsea, if that isn’t the case.
“Gareth Southgate has called Maitland-Niles, who only turned 23 on Saturday, into his England squad, too, having noticed how players don’t go past him easily. Neither Sadio Mane nor Mo Salah had any joy with him at left wing back, and there is an argument he’d be a better right wing back than Hector Bellerin.
“If I was an Arsenal decision-maker, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get rid of Maitland-Niles, who still has three years on his contract. As his Wikipedia page states under playing position: ‘Midfielder, winger, full back, wing back.’ This young man’s versatility is a weapon, as is his pace and the way he reads the game.
“Arteta would be better off with him than without him.”
Would Arsenal be silly to offload Maitland-Niles after his fine displays of late?