West Bromwich Albion boss Sam Allardyce has publicly told Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles to stop being stubborn about where he wants to play.
The versatile Englishman forced his way out of Arsenal on loan in January because Mikel Arteta refused to play him in central midfield. The Gunners boss, like many of us, primarily viewed him as a wing-back or a full-back, but Maitland-Niles wasn’t happy with that assessment.
He wanted to prove himself as a midfielder elsewhere and Allardyce welcomed him on loan. Maitland-Niles has played regularly in his preferred position there, and has done a decent job.
However, he hasn’t really convinced anyone that he is good enough to hold his own in the middle of Arsenal’s park next season.
Sam Allardyce: Ainsley Maitland-Niles should stop being stubborn
Allardyce has offered some advice to the Arsenal man. He has told Maitland-Niles to stop being stubborn about his position, and has urged him to play wherever his manager tells him to play in the future.
He said, as per The Mirror: “Arsenal have got many talented midfield players. I can see why it’s been difficult for him. It’s very competitive in there. That’s why he’s been played more as a full-back.
“If I were him, I’d play wherever the manager picked me – and I’d never turn it down because if you are able to play in a number of positions, then you are going to get more games than if you had one position and one position only.
“Perhaps you don’t want to be tagged as a ‘utility player’ but sometimes those people are played more often than those who are stubborn and say: ‘I want to play in that position and nowhere else.'”
The Insider’s View:
That is exactly what the majority of Arsenal supporters have been telling him to do. Maitland-Niles, if he puts his head down and works hard, can become one of the best full-backs in the country.
He has all the qualities to succeed in that position, but the only thing that’s stopping him is himself. He will return to Arsenal next month and it is widely expected that he will be sold to another club as soon as possible.
If he wants to have any chance of succeeding at Arsenal, he will have to go up to Arteta and tell him he is ready to play wherever he wants. If he continues to remain stubborn, he may well have to settle down at another relegation-threatened side, or worse, a club that has already been relegated.