Arsenal could sell home-grown utility player Ainsley Maitland-Niles against the wishes of manager Mikel Arteta this summer, with the club's hierarchy seeking to raise cash in order to fund a necessary squad overhaul ahead of next season.
Maitland-Niles is among nine players the Gunners are looking to sell over the coming two months, but he is the only one of those nine that Arteta would actually prefer to keep.
The hope from club officials is that cutting expenses and streamlining will allow the business to run in a sustainable way while also making it possible to still invest in the squad.
The Telegraph writes that Maitland-Niles, who first joined Arsenal’s youth ranks aged just five, has been informed by the club that he will be made available for transfer.
The 22-year-old can play anywhere in midfield or at full-back and is said to have been the subject of enquiries from Everton and Brighton. Arsenal value him ‘upwards of £20m’ and there could yet be more interest in his services as it becomes clearer he is available to buy.
In an ideal world, Arteta would want Maitland-Niles to stay. The youngster initially struggled to impress the new boss and didn’t even make the it onto the bench for any of Arsenal’s Premier League games in February or March. Yet he appears to have more recently won over Arteta and played all 90 minutes of the FA Cup final at Wembley earlier this month.
Arteta, who in June acknowledged the enormous scale of the task in front of him to turn Arsenal around, understands the situation and that certain players might have to be sold.
But as well as Maitland-Niles, Arsenal could also ditch a number of fringe players who are deemed surplus to requirements in the new project moving forward.
The Telegraph writes that Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding are all available, as is Henrikh Mkhitaryan - though he already has a 'preliminary agreement' in place to remain at Roma on loan next season.
Arteta also wants rid of both Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil, although it may be harder to shift the latter pair.