Ainsley Maitland-Niles: The Contenders to Sign the Arsenal Player & Where He Might End Up

Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Maitland-Niles is reportedly up for sale this summer | Pool/Getty Images

Despite his brilliant performances against Manchester City and Chelsea, helping Arsenal win their first silverware under Mikel Arteta, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been put up for sale.

One of Arsenal's recent academy success stories, the player has been at Arsenal since he was six and now has 100 appearances in all competitions. Whilst his versatility is viewed as a great strength, the player has made it no secret that he wishes to lock down a regular starting position, and prefers to play further up the pitch than the full-back role he's been tasked with for most of his career to date.

After initially failing to impress Arteta, his departure seemed a sure thing following the signing of right-back Cedric Soares. However, in the last few games of the season there appeared to be a shift in relationship between player and manager, as he starter Arsenal's most important games of the season. Arteta is reportedly now desperate to keep hold of Maitland-Niles.

It seems that the manager has been overruled by those higher up. With the hope that Maitland-Niles' departure can fund further incomings to the team, the board are willing to sanction his sale. Arteta seems like a man who knows how to get what he wants however, so don't totally rule out the academy graduate being an Arsenal player next year,

If he does go, though, he won't have a shortage of suitors. Here's four candidates to take him.

4. Aston Villa

John McGinn
Villa already have midfield options | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Maitland-Niles fits the mould of players Villa targeted last summer. The majority of their overhaul consisted of players under 25, with the hope they could reach their potential at the club and have a high re-sale value.

After this seasons underwhelming performance however, it remains to be seen whether Villa will pursue a similar strategy this summer. They may instead look for more experienced players to ensure they cement their Premier League status.

It remains to be seen where Maitland-Niles would fit in at Villa Park, they already have strong options in midfield and are likely to give Anwar El Ghazi and Trezeguet another season to prove themselves on the wing.
Unless other players are moved on it wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Likelihood Rating: 4/10

3. Brighton & Hove Albion

Graham Potter
Graham Potter has impressed at Brighton | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Graham Potter is making waves on the south coast and has revolutionised this Brighton team in a relatively short space of time - it may be a project that Maitland-Niles fancies being a part of.

Brighton are already familiar with the players talent and potential. Their technical director, Dan Ashworth, was part of the football association when Maitland-Niles played in England's Under-20 World Cup winning squad. Ashworth may be the driving force for this move.

Problems, though? The Seagulls already have ten midfielders on their books - many of whom are established at the club. Unless players are moved on, Maitland-Niles may find game time hard to come by.

They may see the Arsenal man as an option on the wing, although this would be risky - he will command a hefty fee and hasn't really impressed their with the Gunners.

Likelihood Rating: 6/10

2. Fulham

Jean Michael Seri
Marque signing Jean Michael Seri did not work out last time around | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Back in the Premier League via the play-offs, Fulham could be Maitland-Niles' next destination.

After winning the most lucrative game in world football, Fulham will have cash to spend should they desire. However, they spent a bucket load last time they were promoted before crashing straight back into the Championship. The Cottagers should be wary of a repeat.

Following Harrison Reed's return to Southampton they will likely be in the market for a midfielder, although they may be better served going for a cheaper, more experienced option rather than take the risk.

Have Fulham learnt their lesson? Probably not.

Likelihood rating: 6/10

1. Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson
The veteran manager's experience could help develop Maitland-Niles | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

The move that makes the most sense for Maitland-Niles. Palace will be surely looking for central midfield recruits this year, and they currently only have four on the books with the youngest being 29.

They need a change in the centre of the park and although Maitland-Niles might not come cheap, he would be a risk worth taking. Possessing the pace and athleticism so desperately lacking in their current options, Maitland-Niles should slot in perfectly.

Given the uncertain future of Wilfred Zaha, the versatile youngster may also help alleviate the burden should Zaha move away.

Guided by the experience of Roy Hodgson, whilst being able to stay close home in London, there's no reason Maitland-Niles couldn't be a success for the Eagles.

Likelihood rating: 7/10