Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles has aimed a dig at Mikel Arteta for not giving him regular chances in the middle of the park.
The versatile Englishman has always said that he wants to play in central midfield. Arteta, on the other hand, believes that Maitland-Niles is more suited to a wider role – either as a winger or as a full-back.
Most of the 23-year-old’s appearances for Arsenal have come out wide. Since his performances there weren’t really great in the few games he played this season, he was left on the bench more often than not.
That didn’t sit down well with Maitland-Niles who demanded a loan move to keep his England hopes alive. He joined West Bromwich Albion and he has now come out and claimed that he’s glad that he moved instead of ‘sitting on the bench all season’ under Arteta.
He told Express and Star: “Versatility can be a positive or a negative – it depends on your outlook. Sometimes you’re stuck in the position where you’re waiting for a chance and you can play anywhere because of your versatility.
“Sometimes you become a main player straight away and it doesn’t affect you. But sometimes you can be caught out by it. I want to play in the centre of the pitch because I feel comfortable there and there’s a lot of things I can bring by playing in the middle.
“You can control the game from there and I think my attributes help me do that. This was a chance to show I’m capable in that midfield role rather than sitting on the bench all season.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Maitland-Niles made 21 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions before leaving on loan. That’s not really ‘sitting on the bench all season’, is it? He’s out of order there and Arteta will not be a happy man.
As far as his position is concerned, Maitland-Niles is much better in the wide areas than he is in the middle. He really wants to show the world that he is more suited to a central midfield role and we all hope he can, but sadly, he hasn’t done anything great in his preferred position at West Brom so far.
If Maitland-Niles wants to continue at a top club, he will have to accept that a role in the middle of the park is not for him. If he’s adamant that he wants to continue there and aim sly digs at Arteta for no reason whatsoever, he might as well make himself comfortable at a team battling relegation.