Ainsley Maitland-Niles could finally get Arsenal wish as Mikel Arteta drops major selection hint


Ainsley Maitland-Niles played in central midfielder for Arsenal on Thursday in a friendly win over Brentford.

The versatile 24-year-old is still with the Gunners after it looked at one stage as if he was set to leave the club to join Everton.

Maitland-Niles had posted on social media that he wanted to move to a club where he could play regular football, although Arsenal were not willing to let him depart and he held talks with manager Mikel Arteta before a decision was made on his future.

The conversations with Arteta evidently helped clear the air and there was an indication as to how the manager may use Maitland-Niles over the course of the campaign in the 4-0 win over Brentford in a behind-closed-doors game.

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Maitland-Niles lined up in a central midfield berth alongside Mohamed Elneny and was key in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position that was duly converted by Alexandre Lacazette.

Gabriel, who played in a three-man defence alongside Ben White and Pablo Mari, scored to put the Gunners ahead, before Cedric Soares netted a brace.

In the past, Maitland-Niles has been used as a right-back and a right wing-back, although he has expressed a desire to operate as a central midfielder.

However, chances have been scarce for him in this role, with Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Elneny typically ahead of him in the pecking order.

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Last season he spent the second half of the campaign on loan at West Bromwich Albion, where he tended to operate in his preferred role.

Thursday’s friendly hints towards the fact that Arteta may be ready to call upon Maitland-Niles in central midfield.

There will be opportunities in this position after the international break, too, as Xhaka will be suspended for three games after his red card in the 5-0 loss to Manchester City and Elneny appeared to pick up a knock in the friendly.

Source by Football London

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