Arsenal have a lot of complexities that Unai Emery must figure out, not last of all Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But the job may already be done.
Arsenal have officially announced that Ainsley Maitland-Niles has signed a long-term contract extension in the wake of Unai Emery‘s arrival. The young Englishman’s future was only in doubt in so much as his positioning was concerned.
Maitland-Niles has always pushed for a central midfield role but, as of lately, has only been able to snag bit-part roles as a fullback. This same conundrum was present throughout Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stay at the club, and we know how that turned out.
But that was all cast aside with this new deal, along with the accompanying details that Unai Emery came prepared with a ‘dossier’ on Maitland-Niles alone.
We had already heard so much about just how prepared Emery was, and how much detail he put into his interview process. It’s what earned him the job. But to hear that he had entire ‘dossiers’ dedicated to individual players is what dreams are made of.
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Particularly for Maitland-Niles, who has waited patiently for this exact thing – someone who understands him and knows how to use him. Or, at the very least, knows how to get him to where he wants to be.
Young players need guidance. There’s no hiding from that. And while Wenger was a superb guide for most, he dropped the ball sometimes by overloading limited positions on the pitch. And just because of natural blockage, and other players with more experience being in the way.
Maitland-Niles was finally starting to break through into the midfield in small capacities, but he needed more consistent time at the position if he was going to seriously consider his future in the center of the Arsenal formation.
Apparently, whatever was in that dossier was exactly what Maitland-Niles wanted to hear, because he signed the deal with very little hesitation, locking his future into the club under Unai Emery, where it would be shocking to not see his midfield involvement grow exponentially.
It’s not always easy coming through a cluttered youth system, and the Gunners certainly have one of those. Maitland-Niles has had his hiccups, on and off the pitch, but the patience that he had in the club and that the club had in him is clearly paying dividends.
And not a moment too soon. This new regime has some excellent resources, and Emery has pinpointed one of the best.