Maitland-Niles needs to face the fact that he is just not good enough for Arsenal

The more I think about how Maitland Niles has acted this week, the more I can’t get over his sense of entitlement.

He posted on Instagram ‘all I want to do is play’ assumed in response to Arsenal blocking a loan move to Everton. Something he feels he has a divine right to, apparently.

Most readers I’m sure have had a job where maybe you want more opportunities.

The majority wouldn’t upload their grievance to social media. Simply because it’s not professional.

It’s equally not very supportive of your boss who is under pressure and needs his or her team to work together.

Here though is the main point the player can’t see.

He’s not very good at his job and hasn’t been for a long time.

That’s fine. It’s not a disgrace to say he’s not good enough for Arsenal especially considering the levels we should be aiming for.

What he failed to mention is that he’s in fact played 110 times for the Gunners under three full time managers.

Watching him daily in training, all three view him only good enough to be our makeshift fullback.

That’s the most frustrating part of his career that he still can’t see. When he says ‘all I want to do is play’ that hasn’t always been the case.

110 times seems enough opportunities?

Unai Emery started him in the Europa League Final, Arteta the FA Cup Final. During that spell Bellerin suffered serious injuries which robbed him his pace.

On the other side Tierney also picked up the odd niggle or when fit could play in a three.

In other words, the door was open for him to make left or right back his own.

Especially how he played at Wembley against Man City and Chelsea. That put the baton in his hand to the point he got capped by England.

Yet he talked himself out of the role with interviews where he was adamant he was unhappy not playing in midfield.

He has since said he’s been misquoted, but Sam Allardyce this week gave insight into how he got the player at the Hawthorns.

Big Sam insisted he picked West Brom as a destination due to promises he could play CM every week.

It’s believed he picked the Midlands over the likes of Leicester and Southampton because those two also didn’t view the middle his best position.

If Wolves really did offer 20-30 million 12 months ago, Arteta convincing his employers to not negotiate seems now like a bad piece of business. Especially now that a year on, we can’t find anyone who will offer even 10 million.

It begs the question that if our manager is telling the board to turn down offers, surely, he consulted the player over where he saw him playing?

The fact that 6 months later the player is being loaned out shows a lack of communication.

Getting relegated with the Baggies cost him any chance of making his country’s squad for the Euros. He certainly didn’t do anything in the Midlands where he should have expected Arteta to have changed his mind.

If anything, it confirmed what the Spaniard had always thought – Maitland Niles is not good enough to be a CM at this level.

It perhaps highlights the problem of a young man paid so much money having achieved very little.

Having been promoted from our academy, you are surrounded by people who tell you how special you are.

Remember one reader claiming he was better than Kante?

Yes, that Kante. The one who won the World Cup and Champions League.

It remains the most deluded comment I have read from our fanbase.

Yet, if that’s the kind of fanfare you’re reading no wonder he’s not taking accountability.

Don’t get me wrong, any professional should back their ability and believe in themselves. Yet if three coaches are saying the same thing, you equally have to listen.

If Thierry Henry, Lauren, Touré, Ljungberg, etc, can trust Mr Wenger to teach them a new position, then Maitland Niles should do as well.

In the short term he’s had clear the air talks with Arteta. This again shows a lack of consistency of our manager’s principles.

He froze out Ozil while admitting zero attitude problems, yet will keep a worse talent in the squad after clear unwanted behaviour.

In the short-term Niles will be on our bench and most likely start next in the Carabao Cup. He will probably end up on loan in January.

He can’t hide behind his age anymore. He’s 24. That’s more than enough time to have proved himself.

The irony is though he was angry with perceiving that Arsenal were stopping his move to Goodison.

It’s the Toffees who wouldn’t pay 10 million. That’s how much they rated him. 10 million is hardly pricing you out of the market.

If there isn’t a club out there who will pay us 10 million, then maybe the player should ask why?

The fact that he won’t, tells you everything you need to know.


Be kind in the comments


Tags Ainsley Maitland-Niles


  1. He wanted to leave and MA blocked the move saying he’s part of his plans. He doesn’t set his selling price.

    Guy wants to play and leave Arsenal to do so, not sure what more you want from him?

    1. But he is in his early 20’s. The club can’t just give him away on the cheap when they have invested £Millions in from his academy days to today. The club has been a disaster in selling players since the Wenger times. Our best players have been sold for cheap, or we have lost money through just letting playerd run down their contracts and leaving on a free. Look at the mess, we can’t seem to make any sort of acceptable money from player sales recently (Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez, Mustafi, Mkhi, Willian, Auba, Laca, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Xhaka, Guendouzi, and so on…) Just lose them on a free because no other club wants them or is willing to pay at least a fair price for them.

      The club has invested £millions in developing AMN. So he does not fully dictate what club should be allowed to sign him for whatever cheap fee they are offering.

      1. I agree with you….but

        Do you think his selling price will go up while he’s sitting bench and his contract is running down?

        1. His selling price will go up if he puts in better performances that will make other clubs notice.
          I just think AMN is just a utility type of player. Not good at any specialist position. Not a good defender. Not intelligent enough in midfield.
          He is Elneny type of bits and bobs kind of squadie.

          He has come through the academy. He is 24 years old now and no one can tell me what he is really good at. What does he bring to the team?

          When you are winning a game I don’t see Niles as the player to help defensively.

          When you are chasing a game I don’t see him as the player to come and make a difference offensively.

          When you want to see out a game (keep possession), I don’t see him as a player good at that too.

          So what exactly is he good at?

          Younger players like Willock, Saka, Rowe etc have come in and shown their specialities.

        2. Trent Alexander Arnold was a midfielder in Liverpool’s academy. Now, he is an arguably a world class full-back. Talent alone, is not good enough. It is the attitude. Hleb, Rosicky, Lauren, Toure, Henry, and many more all played out of position. Did you hear them grumbling?

        3. Selling a player for too little is not much worse than keeping a player on the payroll because you can’t get the price you want in the open market. Both cases represent a financial hit.

      2. since Wenger??? or do you mean our asset mismanagement starting under Wenger’s woeful latter years??

      3. Very true indeed, Wenger began this trend of running down contracts, trasfering players in for a hefty price, shifting them out for a handful of peanuts and what not! And not to forget the laxity and drop in competetiveness and eagreness to win something. All this has ruined the then young AMN and his reasoning. If Big Sam says the same as Mikel or Unai (leave wenger out as he had his favourites without merit), then AMN should reflect and change his thought process.Finally you cannot compare Ozil with AMN, Ozil refused to up his game and be on the teamsheet, AMN is begging to get his name on the teamsheet, either at AFC or elsewhere. I wish the lad luck to change his attitude and once more earn his choice as a starter, which is now more diffiult with the younger and better Sambi Albert and Tavares and now Tommy (for short) joining us.

    2. It’s the price that we gonna pay for letting Arteta to brainwash us. Maitland-Niles, Seliba, Gouendouzi, Nelson are the players that Arteta want to ship out. Maitland-Niles has done a lot for Arsenal, but he’s earning less than most of the new comers who have done minimal for the team. Imagine Martinelli earning more than Maitland-Niles and expect him to be happy. Typical Arteta’s management style

    3. AMN gets criticised for wanting to play/leave and if he stays and get paid while not playing,he is a fraud,he cannot win as for Leicester contrary to what Dan wrote, MA blocked his move to Leicester because he didn’t want to reinforce a team he considered a direct rival.anyway this situation is a mess,bad decisions/mistakes from everyone involved at different stages.lastly people forget that TW held us to ransom/blackmail us,he insisted on being played as a CF before signing “dat ting”

    4. Well here’s a crazy thought
      Take accountability ?
      Instead of crying on the Internet ask how it’s got to a point where you can’t get anyone to pay 10 million for you ?
      Compare his situation to Joe Wilock
      Wilock got his head down , did well on loan , gets a 20 million pound move

      1. I’ll tell you how we got there,the club refused 20M for him when at the time he made it clear that he wanted to play as a midfielder,the question you should ask yourself shoul be,why would you keep a player that you’re not going to play regularly and where you want him to?the club once again has decreased the value of one its assets.

    5. PJ-SA If Maitland Niles is not good enough for Arsenal there is a lot more who are not good enough for Arsenal sitting on their pay packets as well

    6. Exactly, Maitland Niles realise he is not good enough for Arsenal and Everton is prepared to give Niles a chance to see if he can fit into their system but for whatever reason Arsenal are not able to let him go . Very perplexing situation to comprehend

  2. I liked his performance in pre-season and it kinda reminds me of Kante’s. I thought he was going to make the LWB role his own, but his left foot was too weak for playing in consecutive games

    Xhaka and Partey are unavailable, so we’d better try him in midfield again at the Emirates

    1. GAI, AMN plays as a RB or RWB; it was only a matter of time before you hot your “left” and “right” mixed up.

    2. Gai
      AMN trained as DM in Arsenal accademy. I think he should be encouraged to develop there. He is physical and will be quick in transition. He can also deputise for our new Japanese RFB in the absence of Bellerin. I somehow feel he will do better than Chambers and Cedric because he has the skill set to cut into the midfield. Hope Arteta can try him in Noritch game. It’s out of point to say he isn’t good enough for Arsenal. I mean don’t get a call into England team for nothing. And considering other teams wanting to sign him since last season. Though I reckon his performance needs to be consistent.

  3. If he isn’t good enough for Arsenal, then why do the Arsenal hierarchy not allow him to move elsewhere? Look,Niles can be limited but when the likes of Cedric,Kola,El-Neny,Xhaka,etc get more game time over you,you really question how garbage you must be,and this is exactly why he wants to go where he is valued more.

    1. So they should just allow him to go for whatever embarrassing fee is being offered to the club?
      The club definitely see him as a useful member of the squad, might not see him as a starter but as a squad player like Elneny.
      The loan move to West Brom did nothing for him, he did not pull down any trees during that.

      I heard that Everton wanted him on the cheap while offering him bigger wages. As always not good for the club but only benefits the player.

      The club has invested millions in AMN, they surely deserve something tangible back. Acceptable performances or a good fair transfer fee for him.

      Yes / No?

  4. I agree with most of this but the article Does forget that his natural position is central midfield and he’s never been given the opportunity to play for us there.
    Wenger stuck him in as a full back and because he played adequate there every manager has followed suit.

    Therefore I don’t agree you can say (even with 100+ games) he’s been given ample opportunity.

    Even if it’s one or two games we need to see if he’s any good in his proper position.

    1. I agree with you Mate.Wenger being Wenger stuck him there and every manager played him there.
      Every time he has played, he gave his best and utmost commitment.Yes occasionally loses concentration but overall very decent who has not been given a real run in any position at all.

    2. Played there every week for west Brom and was average
      So if your average at west Brom your not then getting into our midfield are you ?

  5. As if we are any good enough. We are at the bottom of the league. Plus with the likes of Cedric and Kola, i think AMN do better job.

  6. If AMN isn’t good enough for Arsenal then how are the likes of Holding, Chambers, Elneny and Soares good enough, none of them have done anything of note but still get game time. AMN has shown in the FA cup winning year and his call up for England that he is good enough. He may have an attitude issue but that is what Arteta should be working on with him, it’s called man management. AMN should be given game time and all of the other players mentioned should be shown the door before AMN is. On current evidence it’s Arteta that isn’t good enough as he plays less talented players just because they fall in line at the expense of the guys who can improve us and get us better results.

    1. There not
      Apart from holding they are squad players
      But after 100 games I bet I name more great games rob holding has had compared to a mn

    1. Hence why Everton only wanted him on loan?
      If Everton thought he is goed enough then why weren’t they willing to reflect that in their offer instead of just a loan?

      If they offered in the region of £20 million then I think Arsenal would have sold him like they did Willock.

      But I hear that they only wanted to cover for the RB (Coleman). Just read some of the Everton fans take on the rumour, they use terms like:

      “Would not be the the worst transfer ever
      “Good utility player”.
      “Good cover for Coleman”
      “Can cover in midfield”
      “He would do for now.”

  7. The guy needed to play consistently in order to develop but this was not forthcoming from the manager (He was playing well when he got consistent playing opportunities- you just mentioned that). He feels he is being wasted and age is not on his side as you have rightly pointed. So if this is the case and MA is blocking his move elsewhere, who wouldn’t be frustrated? MA has made players that were once very good players or had the potential to be good and AMN doesn’t to be a victim.

  8. And what is AMN good at? I have kept and eye on him since the hype train about him started in 2015 when his mother had become a godzilla soccer mom. She was known for speaking her mind, turning up at the training groud demanding her son is played. Sending angry voicemails. Assaulting people at the academy etc..

    With all that, AMN is not shown any specialty in any given position. Watched him in midfield a few times and he is so average. Seen him as a fullback, he is average, always loses concentration and relies on his pace to make up for this.

    AMN and Reiss Nelson have been some of the most anti climax over hyped youngsters ever. The likes of Saka, Smith Rowe, Willock have come in and overtaken them in their development.

    Reminds me of the likes of Jay emmanuel thomas, Afobe, Akpom etc..

    Balogan seemed to be going the same hype route until the Brentford game. This helped cool down the over the Top push for the young man to be thrust into the hot oven by our fans.

    If you are good enough the cream will rise to the top (Saka, Smith Rowe). Just need to work hard and show that you deserve to start.

    And I hope young Azzez is also allowed time to grow and develop instead of over hyping him unnecessarily.

    1. Goonster, all the things you mentioned occurred when he was quite young and involved the actions of his mother. He is now older and from what I have read is estranged from his mother.
      If a you said “the cream will rise to the top”, then AMN has achieved at a relatively young age far more than many players, in being selected for the England squad. This was after getting a run of games contributing to Arsenal winning the FA Cup 2020 under Arteta.
      Following the serious injury to Hector Bellerin, AMN has proved himself to be the Club’s best RB/RWB. However, following that FA Cup success, Arteta failed to select him, so he went on loan.
      Now that it appears that he returned from his loan at WBA and openly stated that he is prepared to play where the manager requires (at last accepting the advice of Sam Allardyce and other managers) all he needs is a run of games.
      It’s not like Arsenal is setting the world on fire at the moment. AMN is still a young, talented, versatile player, maturing all the time. He is worth Mikel Arteta’s investment in him as a player to either succeed at Arsenal or raise his value if sold, by giving him a run of games.
      I believe you, Dan and others are unfair in your assessment of AMN.

      1. NOT WITH YOU ON THIS ONE OZZIE. As cream certainly does rise to the surface, at 23 now, AMN is showing distinct signs of having peaked but at a level below what we need.
        I do agree that heis a little better than all our other RB’s but none of whom are any use at all .

        And being picked for England was a non helpful thing that only succeeded in raising our fans expectations, but unrealistically. IF he were any good at top level he would have been in serious consideration for this summers Euros. But he was not!
        Not a bad player but not the standard we badly need IF we are to make SERIOUS improvement. I’d have accepted the offer a year ago personally, from Wolves if I remember correctly.

  9. Niles. At 21 given a deal = 50k p/w for 5 years Martinelli at 19 given a 4 year deal at 90k p/w.
    Auba at 29. Given a 3 year 39 million deal
    Before that Ozil same deal.
    The form of all 4 fell away significantly soon after.
    It’s just how it is in PL football.
    Some thing needs to change but what?

    1. I’ll tell you what needs to change fairfan , esp as you have proved yourself a fair minded and deep thinker.

      The obscenity of ALL Prem players being paid many times too much than they should be paid.

      THAT would transform our game for the better. But there is not even the will among fans, in general, to make this three decades long needed change , let alone the football authorities.

      And to combat those who incorrectly say that it would be against European law, I say this : ALL contracts should uniformly be inclusive of a maximum wage that would exclude ANY player who would not sign.

      THEN we could , were there the common will, force this vitally needed change into massively changing the widespread corruption that all obscenely ludicrous contracts have caused. It would ensure a massively more level playing field for all and to some extent, tame the power of oil rich and state controlled owners who are ruining our game before our very eyes.

      Few, apart from myself and a mere handful of others, can see – or else, choose to refuse to see – this damage that will inevitably HAVE to change, OR ELSE top level football will effectively die as a fair competition.

  10. Yes the article is too unfair on AMN and I believe that given consistent playing opportunities he will eventually prove his worth to AFC. Why keep him if he is not good enough. Let us be fair guys, I think he is better than Cedric and Chambers at right back, period and he is allowed to air his frustrations.

  11. I wonder what’s wrong with a footballer wanting to play football. At least he isn’t content with just sitting on the bench and collecting his paycheck. Even if he isn’t at the level we expect at Arsenal he’ll at least be at the appropriate level for some other club. That seems to be what he wants.

  12. If he’s not good enough for a team that is at the bottom of the log, then he should be in Championship. Of which is wrong. Maitland-Niles played under Wenger, Emery, and England under 23 manager. Do you think that Arteta is better than all those 3 managers? I hope not. Arteta is still holding a grudge that Maitland-Niles came late to training. Only 1 day of late training in comparison to the years that he has spend in Arsenal, then the thing was blown out of proportion. Arteta is the one who’s not good enough for Arsenal

  13. As fans we need to be realistic about where we are as a club.No world class player will join us in our position, especially with our rookie coach.
    AMN is a decent player who has huge potential but a victim of poor handling by our last 3 coaches.I like his energy, hardwork and commitment. Even after the 2019/2020 season consistent performances at LB, we still didn’t give him assurance over his future.I remember the interview with Auba, he said “I’m an Arsenal man till I’m told I am not”.We rejected bid from wolves and never played him again.KT got injured, the coach sent AMN out and played Xhaka at LB(looool)..Sometimes all a player needs is a coach who will look him in the eye and say, “I am not signing a RB yet, I trust you to play that position”
    When players don’t feel the trust of their manager its a problem.AMN is a better fit at the club than Mikel Arteta

    1. @Daniel
      RealTalk Gooner….
      Claiming a young player is not good enough, is a very harsh statement to make, without perspective on the players overall situation…

      1. hes 24 years old whos played over 100 games for us , how long can you keep hiding behind he’s young

  14. Another mistake the club is making is “We keep selling players or giving players chance, who have passion and knows what it means to play for Arsenal….Wilock, Bellerin,Guendouzhi, Martinelli,AMN, Martinez and then we buy mercenaries who would just come earn salary..We are not ready.These players are the identity of the club.When UTD sold welbz, we saw how angry the UTD fans and legends were even though welbz wasn’t the best of his crops..but its more like club losing identity..It took Covid and Injuries to even get Saka and ESR on the pitch under this rookie manager despite their performances under previous manager..I am not surprise, in terms of commitment on the pitch, sake and ESR are up there and there’s a reason for that

  15. Many players in the past were branded not good enough without giving opportunity and they flourished somewhere else eg. Gnabry, Szczesny, Look at Mkhitaryan at Roma, willock, ever Emi Martinez before his lucky break due to Leno injury.

    Point being, lot depends upon manager and his playing stlyw.

  16. With the sole exceptionof his, IMO, risibly wrong Ozil sentence, I wholeheartedly agree with all else Dan writes.

    AMN has not the detemination nor ruthless desire to make top grade that any aspiring would be top talent needs.

    More importantly , he does NOT posses the required talent level either.

  17. I have sympathy with AMN “just wanting to play” – but throughout his career he has been his own worst enemy, which hasn’t helped. his career
    A tremendous natural talent is being wasted by frequent lapses in concentration and a casual attitude. It seems he finds the game TOO easy and either drifts in and out or makes careless mistakes..
    This means that whilst capable of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck, he all too often disappears. As evidenced at WBA, you can’t have an invisible CM. A shame, because it’s purely mental with AMN.
    He has perhaps continued to push strongly to only play in CM, regardless of what we hear publicly, because he has frequently been our best available RB, but is very rarely played there. He chose WBA over other better clubs for his loan as they were the only one wanting him as a CM.
    I am inclined to think that this is not an Arteta aberration but rather AMN being so awkward about playing at RB that MA worries he will underperform in that position.
    If he is delivering on that undoubted natural talent surely clubs would be trying to take him for such a reasonable price. The fact that nobody wants to know tells us a lot.
    He needs a reality check. He won’t get a “run of games” in CM like he wasted at WBA. He is simply not as good as he thinks he is, and is not the only player at Arsenal whose arrogance is wasting their talent.

  18. Dan, right now can we really say anything about anybody? I really do wonder how “good” or “bad” some of our players are because we are so screwed up right now.

    “Bad” players seem to play well away and “good” players coming in seem to get worse.

    AMN may not be good enough but with a proper structure he may well be a strong part of a team. He is somebody who I could see going to another team and playing well.

    And no not City or super teams, but EPL teams in the middle. We happen to be below them right now.

  19. And all of a sudden, people forget what AMN is capable of. The good reading of games, successful tackle percentage, ice-cold penalties. Saying he is not good enough will only be fair if the same is said for every other player int the team. Just look at where we are right now.

    AMN is still young and if his recent contributions don’t look good enough for Arsenal, clearly he has grown stagnant. That can only mean the coaching team is at fault.

  20. I didn’t go through each and every comment but I agree that he shouldn’t have go on social media to complain. It’s also true that he is a natural CM that hasn’t exactly been allowed to play where he wants. However it is also true that many great players ended up in positions that they thought weren’t their natural ones. Did you know that West Ham’s Antonio was naturally a right back? It’s weird to even imagine now (with him scoring as regularly as he does). I think AMN has just been unlucky with the team he is in. We can’t deny that he’s a little talented and that if he has played under Guardiola or someone like klopp, he’d look more accomplished as a footballer. I actually really like him and think he’d be amazing at right back if he got his head down and actually tried to play there for real. (He’s averagely fast, he’s technical enough to lay passes and he’s wise enough to know how to make runs forward), which is all you really want from a wing back and Wenger clearly saw this too.

  21. The guy would not be starting in any of the top 6 teams … in any position … so if we want to progress we need better thannAMN in starting 11 .. that said he’s way better than elneny xhaka chambers .. so a decent bench player but if he feels he deserves to be a starter somewhere then let him go …?just another example of the Spanish novice trying to learn on the job .. and not doing well at it

  22. Why would you conclude he is not good enough when we have not played him in his preferred position in midfield for like 5 games? He has pace and a good man marker which your favorite Xhaka lacks. It is that lack o dynamism in midfield largely contributed by Xhaka that has made our midfield look weak.
    It would have been easier to trust the process if Arteta was making the right player selections in midfield and defense. Xhaka should be nowhere near that midfield and should be reinvented on the left side of defense in a 3-4-3 formation atimes or sit on the bench. The double combination of Partey. Lonkonga and Maitland-Niles and maybe El Neny atimes should hold that midfield. Since most of the players failed us last season, we should just play our new signings this season to start with.
    Arteta signed defensive minded players but he doesn’t want to use the ones that are available but using low quality players in Chambers the break dancer and Cedric the escort. Our porous defense makes our attacking players struggle to play at their best

    First 11 for me.






    1. He played today at cm against brentford in our 4 nil win. Not sure how he did but let’s see, is he going to do something now he has made his point!

  23. This article is not making sense to me at all. What’s the point the writer is trying make regarding the current situation with Maitland-Niles? An article to run down a player who demanded to leave in order to get game time elsewhere. SMH
    Some Arsenal fans are fond of this attitude of running down and calling out their own players, and this article is no different. Complete rubbish in my opinion.

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