Maitland-Niles linked with move away. Plus Arsenal interested in Palace fullback
A January move away from Arsenal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles is becoming increasingly likely according to some reports. The 23 year old has struggled to get any significant game time under Arteta, particularly in the league where he is yet to play his ‘preferred’ position in central midfield, and Arteta seems to prefer Cedric and Bellerin over him at full-back.
As such it looked like Maitland-Niles was set to join another Premier League side on loan for the rest of this season. The first teams linked were West Brom and Southampton, however since then Leicester have emerged as the player’s first choice. It is possible that Leicester are even tempted to negotiate an option to buy.
For me, I would be quite wary about this. Firstly, we need to decide whether it is even right to let him go. His greatest quality is his versatility; able to play in midfield, as a fullback or as a wing back on either side. However, ever since Arteta ditched the 5 at the back approach, his minutes have dropped significantly. I still think though that he can bring some significant depth to the side. Considering we will be hoping to climb the league table and go deep in Europa, it perhaps would be best to keep him and assess the situation again in the summer.
Then we need to decide where we should let him go to. Leicester already have Castagne, Justin and Pereira competing at full back. And I think Rogers is unlikely to play him over Tielemans or Ndidi in midfield. As such, a loan to Leicester is unlikely to give him the kind of minutes we would hope for. Not to mention the fact that it would be strengthening a potential rival for those European spots.
In other news, Arteta appears to have recognised a need for an understudy to Tierney at left-back as we are pursuing now Patrick Van Aanholt. The 30-year-old has just 6 months left on his contract, therefore could be available at a cut-price. I think it is important to find an understudy for Tierney, but the Scots youth means we don’t need to target a young, up and coming LB. Perhaps this deal would make sense. My only apprehension is that we need to pay him what he’s worth. We don’t want another player over 30 on a deal which is too long and for too much money.
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