Ainsley Maitland-Niles is reportedly closing on a loan move to Southampton, though Arsenal are keen on signing Ryan Bertrand in exchange.
According to Daily Mail, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will become the next player to leave Arsenal in the January transfer window, following the likes of Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis out the exit door at the Emirates. The versatile Englishman is being linked with a move to Southampton and West Bromwich Albion and is free to choose between the two clubs.
Arsenal, however, could be pushing for a switch to Southampton, from whom they will demand that Ryan Bertrand moves to the opposite direction. The departure of Maitland-Niles could indeed leave a huge void in the left-back area, making the Southampton full-back a viable target for the Gunners.
Bertrand has become an essential part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team that has done incredibly well in the Premier League this season, making 17 appearances so far. However, his current contract at St. Mary’s expires at the end of the campaign, meaning the club won’t be able to recover his services once the defender leaves for the Emirates this month.
In contrast, the loan deal involving Maitland-Niles could see the Englishman return to the Emirates in the summer and potentially becoming a key part of the Arsenal first-team. But on a positive note for Southampton, the 23-year-old can provide cover for not only the left-back position but also other areas of the pitch including right-back and central midfield.
It could bode well for Hasenhuttl, who has had a shallow midfield unit at his disposal this season, especially with Oriol Romeu struggling with injuries and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg leaving the club in the summer.
As for Arsenal, the addition of Bertrand will serve as a sigh of relief for Mikel Arteta, who lacks depth in the left-back unit following the departure of Kolasinac. Kieran Tierney has already struggled with injuries so the further departure of Maitland-Niles could have forced the Spaniard to continue to deploy Cedric Soares on the left flank.
But in Bertrand, the Gunners will have an experienced defender who has years of experience at the highest level of football. Although the Englishman is not as gifted as Tierney, he is an excellent backup to have and will aid Arsenal in the Europa League during the second half of the campaign. And with the player’s contract expiring in six months, Bertrand could indeed be a smart short-term investment for the north London giants.