“He was too versatile for his own good.” Ex Gunners knows why Arsenal midfielder struggled to play

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is one Arsenal player whose ability to play in many positions seems to have worked against him, according to Ashley Cole.

Arsenal has sent the Englishman on loan to West Brom for the rest of this season and he has been playing consistently.

He has always maintained that he is a midfielder, however, he hardly had an opportunity to play in that position.

His ability to fill in at other areas of the team meant the Gunners used him as a fullback on both flanks more often.

He became a player whom the club turned to when the more specialised options were unavailable.

Cole thinks that versatility worked against him and prevented him from nailing down a spot of his own.

The former Arsenal full-back says it is very important for young players to make a position theirs in the team instead of making themselves available everywhere.

Asked if it is showing ambition to make the switch, former Gunners left-back Cole told Sky Sports via Sun Sports: “Yes. I think the problem he had was being too versatile for his own good.

“There were so many players in the squad.

“You’ve got an injury at right-back, left-back, central midfielder, right-wing, left wing-back… He could play everywhere.

“But it’s very important, certainly for young players, to nail down a spot and really make that their own.

“He feels central midfield is his position – that’s where he wants to ply his trade. Big Sam has taken a chance on him and given him that opportunity.”

Tags Ainsley Maitland-Niles Ashley Cole


  1. It’s pretty simple, if he knew how to pass the ball at a first division level he would be playing in our midfield right now

    1. Put in a pearler of a cross in his last match, for a headed goad, disallowed for miniscule offside. Cost West Brom a draw.

      1. “goal”
        As stated by Admin Martin AMN has not let Big Sam down, has played consistently well and has added spark to West Bromwich Albion.

  2. I beg to differ with Ashley Cole on this one. I’m sure pundits felt the same way about Jo Cancelo, before he hooked-up with Guardiola at City. With his level of versatility, ANM has the potential to be just as good and even better than Cancelo in years to come. If we decide to sell this player in the summer, we should insist on a buy-back clause.

  3. Now 23 AMN has been a nearly man, in essence . A useful player and versatile but not QUITE good enough. Had he been considered good enough he would certainly have played in midfield. The fact that he has scarcely played there says it all IMO. I will be much surprised if he is still our player come August.

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