The Athletic’s David Ornstein has claimed that Arsenal believe Ainsley Maitland-Niles made the wrong move on transfer deadline day.
The versatile Englishman was struggling for game time at the Emirates under Mikel Arteta. He wanted a temporary move away to make his case for a spot in England’s Euros spot, and Arsenal agreed.
The Gunners had plenty of offers for Maitland-Niles. Leicester City, Southampton and Newcastle were all linked, but he ended up securing a move to West Bromwich Albion until the end of the season.
Arteta wanted AMN to join Southampton
The Baggies have reportedly agreed to use him in his preferred central midfield role. Southampton preferred to use him as a full-back and Arsenal wanted the same, but the Englishman rejected that opportunity.
Arteta, Edu and co at Arsenal still believe that Maitland-Niles should’ve gone to Southampton, says Ornstein, but sadly, he did what he felt was right for him.
The Athletic journalist said on The Ornstein and Chapman podcast: “Southampton were on the scene, they were initially looking to play him as a full-back, and he didn’t want that.
“They very quickly came to an agreement with Arsenal, and it really did suit Arsenal. They think and they still think he should have gone there and Southampton were wanting him, they were pushing, they were calling overnight and asking for an answer before deadline day into the morning.
“West Brom came back into the frame. Arsenal weren’t so keen on him going there, for the playing style, for the relegation scrap. He was always quite open to it as they assured him he would have midfield opportunities. That became the only realistic option with little time to spare.”
Arsenal Insider’s view
Maitland-Niles has always wanted to play in the middle of the park, but chances have been few and far between at Arsenal.
He featured there a couple of times in the Europa League, but when you look at the pecking order, he falls some way short of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.
His lack of consistency in full-back positions didn’t sit down too well with Arteta. He was dropped from the squad after his dismal display against Crystal Palace a few weeks ago, and that might have forced him to consider a loan option.
Maitland-Niles has now found a temporary home and it’s now up to him to perform. If he fares brilliantly in central midfield at West Brom, he might change Arteta’s mind. However, if he endures a poor spell there, he should just come back and stick to being a full-back, like Arsenal want him to be.