After the role that Ainsley Maitland-Niles played in getting the FA Cup back to North London, there should be no discussion on his future.
And yet, there are reports suggesting that Ainsley Maitland-Niles would like to leave. Alongside such speculation it is stated that coach Mikel Arteta would oppose such a departure, but that the club itself would be willing.
With all of the assorted drama that accompanies Arsenal, as well as the transfer window itself, none of the revelations should be surprising to anyone; however, with so many great candidates to move on across the roster, his departure seems one that is unnecessary and detrimental to the club in the long term.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: Too much quality and versatility to lose
Maitland-Niles has shown great ability throughout his short first team career; under Mikel Arteta, he hasn’t always featured in either the midfield or across the backline. But when Arteta needed someone to track the most athletic of wingers – those that Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea possess – who was called upon?
Maitland-Niles put in masterful performances in winning Arsenal a spot in the Europa League next campaign. His versatility wide in the middle of the field, as well as along the backline, is rare and working under Arteta may refine it to scary dimensions. His reward should be some security by way of rotation, especially with rumors of Hector Bellerin abounding as well.
Selling both doesn’t seem to make too much sense. One, maybe, but both? I for one, wouldn’t be ever to unload either; athletic wing-backs should not be among the positions we look to rid ourselves of.
With players like Matteo Guendouzi, Shkodran Moustafi, Rob Holding, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and even Granit Xhaka available for the right price or swap, the options for the Arteta Revolution are there for the bold.
Some of the swaps and transfers that spare Ainsley Maitland-Niles from departure
While Mesut Ozil should be a candidate to leave, he is dug in as Gareth Bale is in Madrid. If I were Arteta, I would try and incorporate him in some capacity, as this seems as much about ego as it does finance.
With this understood, other favorites of mine like Lacazette may be prime targets to leave, especially with Juventus looking for a deal in some capacity. Guendouzi is in a similar position, with Arsenal trying to manage a swap with either Atletico Madrid or Barcelona. These deals could yield players like Gonzalo Higuain, Douglas Costa, Cristian Romero and/or even Thomas Partey. Lucas Torreira has been rumored in a swap deals with both Roma and Milan, in which the Gunners could see returns featuring Ricardo Rodriguez, Franck Kessie or Amadou Diawara.
And that is only through the movement of three players alone. Rumoured target Philippe Coutinho could be independent of a Guendouzi deal, as could a potential wildcard of the return of Aaron Ramsey from Juventus.
With rumors of Lille’s Gabriel Magalhaes favoring Arsenal as well, there doesn’t seem to be much need to sell Maitland-Niles. Further defensive measures could be funded by either ownership (unlikely), or by further sales (more likely).
But even the sales of long serving players may be necessary, for the vision of Arteta is clearly in place; those who cannot fit must be moved and fresh ambition must be brought in. But Arsenal don’t have to sacrifice players of real potential to do so. The balance must be maintained.
Arsenal: Still under construction
It’s alright to still be a work in progress. Almost every team across every nation is at that stage, even Bayern Munich. With this said, making mistakes during a rebuild can cost way more money than its worth to sell the player in the first place.
Arsenal need to keep the talent and youth that represents Arsenal and lose some of the excess that has built up and not produced adequately. For Arteta and Arsenal, fresh off of the FA Cup victory against Chelsea, there is hardly time to wait.