I am developing a lot quicker at West Brom: Maitland Niles
Ainsley Maitland Niles switched the Emirates Stadium for the Hawthorns in the January transfer window. And even though West Bromwich Albion look destined to play Championship football next season, Maitland Niles believe that his switch was a positive one.
The 23-year-old was among the fulcrum in the Arsenal squad which lifted their 14th FA Cup title in the most bizarre fashions last season. But since he sipped champagne from the beautiful FA Cup trophy, he has only tasted his salty tears.
The English midfielder, who is capable of playing various positions, lost his place at Arsenal which prompted a switch to relegation threatened West Brom mid-season, and since his move to the West Midlands, he has appeared in every fixture for the Baggies in the league. The Arsenal loanee was thus in a positive mood while speaking to the Birmingham Mail about his move to Sam Allardyce’s team.
“I think I’m developing a lot quicker here because you’re consistently improving your game and fighting to be the best, even when the odds are against you,” Maitland-Niles explained.
“First and foremost, it’s just great to be here playing games and earning the trust of the manager. It was always going to be different coming from one team to another who are at opposite sides of the table.
So it’s a different type of challenge, but you have to bring your best in everyday to try and work hard to get out of the position we’re in.
Maitland Niles had some positive words for his current coach: “The gaffer is very honest and will tell you anything you need to hear. He’s straight to the point with how he feels. So, you can either put your head down and take the criticism as a negative, or you can take it in a positive way.
“He only says these things because he cares and it’s some help to us all. I love the direct approach he has.”
Last season, the England international made 33 appearances for the Gunners, 17 of which came in the right-back slot, seven in the right midfield, while also playing as a left-back, and at the heart of the midfield.
Before he made the switch to West Brom, Maitland Niles was hardly used in his favoured position by Mikel Arteta. Versatility can sometimes come and bite you and that’s what the Hale End academy graduate believes.
“Versatility can be a positive and a negative, but it depends on your outlook,” Maitland-Niles reasoned.
“Personally, I want to play in the center of the pitch because I feel comfortable there and there are a lot of things I can bring to playing in the middle.
He continued, “You can control the game as much as possible from there and I think my attributes can help me do that and that’s what I’d want. Every manager is different, and they may see different qualities in other players.
“This was a chance to show that I’m capable in that midfield role rather than sitting on the bench all season.
There’s nothing better than playing and I thought it’d be great to experience playing with other people who are trying to stay in the Premier League. It was a perfect fit.
“I’ve been in a great environment at Arsenal, but to come here in the position West Brom were in, and yet to still have the positive atmosphere around the place, is incredible.”
Maitland Niles’ Arsenal career is still under a cloud. According to reports, his situation will be looked at at London Colney in the summer. Arsenal must decide fast whether they see Maitland Niles as part of the furniture for the future or a thing of the past.
Nobody knows where the Arsenal loanee’s future lies next season.
But Niles is certain about one thing. That his future rest at the center of the park, rather than at the side. But can he really fill that role at a club like Arsenal?
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