Arsenal

Ainsley Maitland-Niles happy to stay at Arsenal

Toby Cudworth
Maitland-Niles started Arsenal's game against Watford
Maitland-Niles started Arsenal's game against Watford / Robin Jones/GettyImages
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Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he's only focused on the future and working hard after starting Arsenal's 1-0 win over Watford.

The 24-year-old attempted to engineer a move away from the Emirates Stadium in the summer, and even posted a pleading message on Instagram that read "All I wanna do is go where I'm wanted and where I'm gonna play."

That came after Arsenal rebuffed Everton's interest in a summer transfer, but it appears he's now put those issues behind him and is keen to fight for his place in north London - a decision that may have been influenced by where he played on Sunday.


What did he say?

That’s all in the past now," Maitland-Niles told reporters after the game against Claudio Ranieri's Hornets, which the Gunners won through an Emile Smith Rowe goal.

“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.”



Why the change of heart?

Maitland-Niles has long seen himself as a central midfielder, but he previously hasn't been able to convince Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta that it's his best position.

Instead, he's spent most of his time at the club playing as a versatile wing-back - and even broke through into England's setup after playing well on the left-hand side during Arsenal's run to FA Cup glory in 2020.

His start on Sunday was as a result of Thomas Partey's absence through injury, but does at least indicate that Arteta now trusts him to play in the middle of the park. Whether he retains his place when the Ghanaian returns remains to be seen.

Last season, Maitland-Niles turned down a loan move to Southampton in favour of joining West Brom, purely because they were willing to play him in midfield. The Baggies were ultimately relegated from the Premier League.

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