Ainsley Maitland-Niles has come through the ranks at the club’s academy, and apart from a season-long loan at Ipswich Town in 2015/16, he has been with Arsenal his entire football career so far. However, as exclusively revealed by David Ornstein of The Athletic, he has now decided that it is in his best interest to leave the club.
Looking at it from his own perspective, it’s hard to disagree. As Ornstein rightly points out, the 22-year-old is a winger by default used as a make-shift right-back for most of his senior career due to frequent injury absences of Hector Bellerin in previous seasons, and he has seen other academy graduates move past him on the development track.
Now the Gunners have secured the services of Cedric Soares on a four-year contract, and it seems Maitland-Niles has truly come to the end of the road when it comes to his stay at Arsenal. Though he’s had 14 Premier League starts this season, 10 of which came before the appointment of Mikel Arteta as head coach, with Cedric around, there simply won’t be any space for him to play.
He has so far made 96 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring three goals and assisting five.
There was an initial will from the club and the player’s representatives for the situation to be put on ice until the season was over, so that the focus could be on the remaining games and the goal of reaching Europe, but after the North-London Derby defeat on Sunday, Champions League qualification remains no more than a dream and the matter over Maitland-Niles is set to be resolved sooner than originally intended.
Apparently, there has been a disciplinary issue here too, with Maitland-Niles coming in for training late once, for which he ‘took the consequences’.
Be that as it may, Ornstein says there is interest in his services from England and Germany, and it remains to be seen how much money Arsenal receive to let him leave. His contract runs for three more years, which puts the club in a relatively strong negotiating position.