Time for Maitland-Niles to Come of Age by AI
Talent, they say, is not enough at the top level. You need hard work, patience, composure and consistency. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has bags of talent for sure. He always has had that. Over the last three seasons, the 22-year-old has played under three different managers and in more than 5 different roles on the pitch. He is very versatile, intelligent, athletic, confident with the ball and composed for one so young. But he has sorely lacked consistency.
One can hardly blame him for that, though. Although young players are maddeningly inconsistent and have numerous highs and lows, Maitland-Niles can point to the frequency at which he’s been played out of his preferred position, and every so often in different systems. Under Arsene Wenger, he spent a majority of his time as a leftback. Under Unai Emery, he was used as cover for an injured Hector Bellerin. And now under Arteta he has played on both wings as a wingback. Different positions, different systems, different coaching.
Under Arteta, though, Maitland-Niles has reached new heights. Arteta’s definition of his role on either wings suits the young athlete to a tee. Whether it is coming into the midfield on the right or occupying central positions to open up space on the left, Maitland-Niles has been outstanding.
Against one of the best teams in the world in Liverpool, he won Man of the Match and subsequently won a place in the England setup. He has broken into a new level under Arteta, and with such a defined role in the team, it is time to start expecting him to stay there as a fundamental part of the squad.
This is Maitland-Niles season. This is the time to start seeing him performing consistently and reliably. This is a whole new world for the Hale End graduate. This season will define him as a player and as a professional. Will he take it?