After a summer of transfer speculation and a reported blocked move by the club, Ainsley Maitland-Niles seems happy to play on.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles broke into the Arsenal setup under Arsene Wenger, as a jack of all trades as he was used as a midfielder, full-back and wing-back. The trend continued under Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, who often picked him as a wing-back.
Maitland-Niles had publicly stated multiple times about his desire to play as a midfielder and grew discontent at the club for failing to do so. Last January, a loan move to West Brom did him some good despite their relegation from the Premier League.
During the summer, Maitland-Niles was tipped to move away from the club seeking better opportunities, preferably to pursue a career in midfield. Everton were reportedly keen late in the window and made an offer that Arsenal deemed unacceptable.
When Arsenal rejected the proposal from Everton, Maitland-Niles took to social media to express his displeasure. He tagged the club’s official account on a post that read ‘All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play’, causing some concern for the Gunners.
However, this season, Arteta has played Maitland-Niles in midfield whenever an opportunity presented itself. The academy graduate has overtaken Mohamed Elneny in the pecking order and started twice in their current eight-game unbeaten run in the league.
The latest of those starts came against Watford, where the midfielder produced a MOTM performance as Arsenal triumphed by a solitary goal. With the club set to lose Thomas Partey and Elneny during January’s AFCON, Maitland-Niles is expected to play a vital role, postponing any transfer speculation until after the season.
The Evening Standard posted some latest comments from the midfielder, who seems content with life at the Emirates. Maitland-Niles suggested those social media posts are a thing of the past while looking forward to playing more for the club.
Maitland-Niles said, “That’s all in the past now. I am just thinking about the future and what’s ahead of me. It was great to be out there today, getting my minutes, and hopefully, there is more to come. Yeah [I’m] always happy to be on the pitch and play, it’s a good feeling. Of course I’m looking for more minutes, I just need to keep my head down and keep going and working hard.”
With the ongoing international break, Maitland-Niles is expected to remain at London Colney to prepare better under Arteta. Arsenal take on Liverpool after the break at Anfield. His performance against Watford will certainly play on the manager’s mind when the time for team selection will arrive.