Leicester have become the latest in a long line of potential suitors for Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is edging closer to leaving Arsenal on loan in the January transfer window.
Having been convinced to shun interest from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer, how the season has since panned out for Ainsley Maitland-Niles has not fallen in line with those plans.
Expecting a more regular run in the side, the versatile defender has become a fringe player under Mikel Arteta, not featuring at all in any of the past four matches in all competitions.
There are suitors aplenty for the 23-year-old this window from sides at either end of the Premier League table. The first name thrown into the hat was West Brom, with Sam Allardyce willing to grant Maitland-Nile playing time at both full-back and in his favoured central midfield slot.
The player’s wish to get minutes in that area so he can boost his chances of making the England squad for the upcoming European Championships, although regular playing time is the greatest desire. Arsenal are understandably not keen on him joining a side playing a different brand of football and in their current predicament.
Leicester want loan-to-buy deal for Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Newcastle have also been mentioned, with them also holding a keen interest in Joe Willock. The Gunners’ preference is for Maitland-Niles to join Southampton on loan where he will play at full-back. This strongly hints Arteta has little intention of fielding Maitland-Niles in midfield long-term.
However, as per The Athletic, it is the player’s desire to join Leicester, who are the only club to want a permanent option into any loan deal this month. No talks have taken place and Arsenal are thought not to be overly keen given the potential of directly aiding a rival at the top of the table. Maitland-Niles would be granted the chance in midfield, however.
Interestingly, if Arsenal would prefer him to join Southampton and not Leicester, it indicates precisely what the club’s aspirations are for this season: Champions League. David Luiz even hinted to this after the 0-0 draw with Manchester United.
It will fascinating to see this develop as it becomes clear Maitland-Niles isn’t considered as a vital component for the remainder of the campaign, even if just one or two injuries would place Arsenal in a tight spot without him.