Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta spoke to the media about Ainsley Maitland Niles’ incredible progression this year.
The versatile Englishman joined the club as a six-year-old and has come a long way. He made his debut under Arsene Wenger and has played key roles under Unai Emery and Arteta as well.
Maitland-Niles is also a full England international now. His versatility is one of his best traits, and there is absolutely no doubt that he will go on to have a fine career for both club and country.
However, the young Englishman had a rough spell not too long ago. He hadn’t fully convinced Arteta and the Arsenal boss almost sold him to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer transfer window. (Sky Sports)
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Maitland-Niles played a huge part in our victories in the FA Cup semi-final and final last term and he has performed brilliantly whenever he has got a chance this season as well.
Arteta was asked about the Englishman and the Arsenal boss claimed that he is on another level when compared to where he was this time last year.
Arteta: Ainsley has made big progress in 2020
He told Arsenal.com: “I think Ainsley had a good game and I think he is evolving really good. I think he’s made – in this year – big, big progress and he’s in a much better place than what he was a year ago and he needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Maitland-Niles played the full 90 minutes against Southampton – initially as a right-back and later as a right-winger when Cedric came on. He has been incredible in central midfield in the Europa League this term as well, which should give Arteta a lot of options.
With Granit Xhaka suspended and Thomas Partey out injured, there is a spot open in the middle of the park for Maitland-Niles. Arteta has been hesitant to use him there in the Premier League, but he deserves a chance there, especially after impressing in that position in Europe.