The man who tried too little…. by Ben Dungate
Arsenal has been blessed with some magnificent players throughout its Premier League history: the majestic touch of Dennis Bergkamp; the mercurial talent of Nicolas Anelka; the unplayable physicality of Thierry Henry; the box to box force of Patrick Vieira; the leadership of Tony Adams; the bite of Ian Wright, and so on and so on. So many names that have graced the pitches of Highbury and The Emirates.
But for every legend to evolve within a team there must be a squad of players there to support and facilitate their development. For every Vieira there must be a Petit. For each Pires there must be a Parlour. Those players who fill in the gaps, not just making up the numbers, but doing the jobs that must be done in order for a team to succeed. That is what this post is all about.
One such player finds himself on the brink of leaving the club imminently. A player who managed to reach such highs that he was able to force his way into the National Team, and reach such lows that he was unable to get a game in any position for most of his last loan deal. A 24 year old who appears to be letting his career just fizzle out and disappear before our eyes. Not quite to the extent of Dele Alli, but still…
Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The man who can play most positions but get a game in none of them. Who can look so calm and composed on the ball when he does play, but also appear to put in such little effort. A man who bet his whole career on being a midfielder rather than just accepting the opportunity to play wherever he was needed. Perhaps he didn’t want to end up like James Milner, being a jack of all trades, master of none. But Milner has won the league with 2 different teams, is a Champions League winner, and is still getting picked for Liverpool at the age of 36.
I’m not suggesting AMN is as good as or even a similar style of player to Milner, but he is a terrific athlete like JM and a fine player technically, so we are left to assume that it is his personality that is holding him back. I really like him as a player but find him frustrating as a person. A bit of humility and sacrifice could have lead to a similar career path as Milner. He could’ve governed our midfield for a decade and possibly even have done so for the English National team. But alas we seem set to rue what might have been, and he will be leaving the club in the next week
To have such potential, such ability, and to have seemingly risked it all because he didn’t want to play at right-back. …
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Alfie and Rob are back with the Just Arsenal Show and today they discuss three players who are seemingly on their way out.
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