A quartet of Premier League clubs have joined the race to sign Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles this summer, according to reports.
West Brom switch
23-year-old Maitland-Niles of course exited the Emirates during the January transfer window.
This came with the versatile midfielder/defender, despite playing a key role in Arsenal’s FA Cup and Community Shield success late last season, having majorly struggled for game-time over the opening half of the current campaign.
All of Hector Bellerin, Cedric Soares, Kieran Tierney and even at times Bukayo Saka sat ahead of Maitland-Niles in the full-back pecking order of Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 14: Cedric of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
In turn, at such a crucial point in his career, it was decided that a mid-season loan exit would best aid AMN’s development.
The English international subsequently went on to link up with Sam Allardyce’s West Brom, where he has since played a central role for the Baggies.
Maitland-Niles’ wish to showcase his talents in a midfield berth on a weekly basis has been granted, with the 23-year-old having formed a solid if unspectacular partnership with fellow loanee Conor Gallagher at the heart of the Baggies’ midfield.
All told, the Arsenal talent has notched 12 Premier League appearances, starting and seeing out each of West Brom’s fixtures since early February (bar a meeting with his parent club at the weekend).
West Bromwich Albion’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles during the Premier League match at the Hawthorns, West Bromwich. Picture date: Sunday February 14, 2021. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
With a spot in Mikel Arteta’s midfield altogether unlikely to open up for Maitland-Niles back in north London next season, though, the widespread assumption is that Arsenal will be prepared to sanction a permanent departure during the summer window.
The 23-year-old has now been handed a taste of regular Premier League football, and is unlikely to be willing to return to a bit-part role.
West Brom saw their relegation to the Championship confirmed at the weekend, all but ruling out a move back to the Hawthorns for the 23-year-old.
As outlined above, though, this does not mean that Arsenal will be short on suitors for their on-loan talent.
As per a report from the Daily Mail, a whole host of top-flight sides are expressing a keen interest in Maitland-Niles’ signature ahead of the opening of the summer window.
Amongst the frontrunners named are Southampton and Leeds, both of whom would seemingly be willing to hand AMN a midfield berth.
Manchester United and Everton, meanwhile, are also keeping a close eye on the situation, albeit with the Arsenal man viewed more as a right-back option by the Premier League pair.