Ainsley Maitland-Niles was very keen to go out on loan this January – A; to get some regular football in the hope of a call-up to the England squad for the Euros, and B; to try and get to play in his favoured midfield position, which he is simply not going to get under Arteta at Arsenal, or he certainly hasn’t had so far.
So, him and Arteta are going to have some serious chats this summer as to whether he has a future at Arsenal or not, and see what his options are.
There may well be the chance to stay at West Brom where he has been on loan since January, but as he couldn’t manage to help the Baggies to avoid relegation, it is also unlikely that Sam Allardyce will still be there next season. But Big Sam has joined the debate and given him some advice on what to do if he cannot get a place in the Arsenal midfield. Allardyce told the Mirror: “Ainsley’s given us everything he has got.
“He came to join the fight – you have to admire that – he knew my idea was to play him where he wanted to play and where he’s always wanted to play – in midfield.
“And my words to Ainsley were this: You’ll play in midfield as long as you continue to play well. It’s up to you whether you will hold on to that position.
“There’s just one thing missing and it’s something he just needs to work on – it’s the same with Connor Gallagher – they need to score more goals. They need to chip in.
“They’re up-and-down players, they can get box-to-box, they can get on the edge of the box, in the box, they can get chances – but if they do, they need to improve their finishing.
“It’s the same for every midfielder, or every attacking midfielder like them, they have to add some goals.
“Overall, Ainsley has done the job we asked him to. He’s played where we have asked him, he’s played where he wanted to. He’s made a big contribution. But there is just one thing missing: Those goals that we ultimately needed.
“It wasn’t just about your front three but you need two or three each from your midfielders – and that could have made a big difference to us.”
So that doesn’t sound like his loan spell with impress Arteta, as Arsenal are also in dire need of midfielders that can score goals (Joe Willock anyone?). The Arsenal legend Michael Thomas, in an interview with CaughtOffside, thinks that AMN could stay at Arsenal, but should be careful what he wishes for: “Maitland-Niles is a player I really like. Arsenal DNA and he has quality. I think he believes in himself playing central midfield going forward and I am not sure if any of the “bigger” clubs feel that.”
“He has a terrific future but I think right-back is a position he can make his own. I was a CM that also played games at RB. The role doesn’t differ too much, especially in today’s game.”
So, what do you think AMN could be doing next season? Stck or sell?