Exclusive - Arsenal pair Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kieran Tierney will now stay at the club this summer after head coach Mikel Arteta made clear he wanted both to be a part of his squad for the new season.
Maitland-Niles and Tierney had each been linked with moves away from north London in recent weeks. For Maitland-Niles in particular that would have meant leaving the club he first joined aged 6.
The versatile 23-year-old, who has earned a first senior England call-up for this month’s internationals, has been of interest to Wolves, while even Tottenham were linked.
As far as Tierney is concerned, the left-back had long been on Leicester’s radar following a challenging and injury defined debut season at Arsenal, during which he struggled to settle in London. A reunion with former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was potentially on the cards, with the Foxes even willing to offer Arsenal their £25m investment back.
However, 90min can now reveal that Arteta wants to keep both players because he has concluded each could become key figures in the squad moving forward.
Having been initially out of the picture when Arteta first took over, Maitland-Niles played a major role as Arsenal won the FA Cup during ‘Project Restart’. He also started the final game of the Premier League season and starred in the Community Shield victory over Liverpool last weekend.
Wolves were actually close to striking a £20m deal to take him to Molineux, but just as the two clubs were nearing an agreement it was Arsenal who decided to back away.
Tierney similarly enjoyed a strong end to the 2019/20 season after recovering from the shoulder injury that had threatened to end his campaign early. He started almost every Premier League game during ‘Project Restart’ and was another who was key to the triumphant FA Cup run.
Like Maitland-Niles, Tierney showed impressive versatility in the latter stages of the campaign, operating as a conventional left-back, auxiliary centre-back or wing-back depending on the fixture.
A source with knowledge of the situation told 90min, “Arteta has made it clear to the club that Maitland-Niles and Tierney could be key figures for him going forward – which is a remarkable turnaround for both players, who at the turn of the year looked set to leave the club.”