AS Roma eyeing January loan move for Arsenal ace Ainsley Maitland-Niles
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, AS Roma are looking to sign Arsenal starlet Ainsley Maitland-Niles on a loan deal in January. The Englishman has found game-time hard to come by at the Emirates this season but has been a regular member of the squad.
The versatile player joined the Arsenal academy as a 6-year-old. After nearly 11 years in the academy, he moved up to the U-18 and soon escalated to the U-21 side. The academy graduate was then handed a place in the senior squad in 2017 by Arsene Wenger himself. The Frenchman often provided chances to youngsters, and Maitland-Niles was no different. The full-back has suffered for game-time recently and could be on the move now.
Would AS Roma be a good place for him to develop? Should Mikel Arteta consider letting him leave?
Letting Ainsley Maitland-Niles join A.S Roma in January could prove to be a crucial mistake
Since being promoted to the senior setup, the 24-year-old has made 132 appearances for the first team. He has developed under the tutelage of three different managers and has played various roles. Last season, he secured a loan move to West Bromwich Albion and was a regular in their side. He has remained at the Emirates this season but has only garnered 263 minutes of league action.
AS Roma are now lining up a move for him, with Jose Mourinho keen on the player. On the face of it, there is not a lot wrong with this deal. The Italian club is trying to finish in the Top 4 of Serie A and could use a versatile young player, who is hungry for game-time. However, letting him leave at this stage of the season could prove to be a crucial mistake.
The Gunners are finally playing an attractive brand of football, and things are coming together for them. There is a quality player in nearly every position, but they do not have depth in some areas. Takehiro Tomiyasu is the starting right-back, but Cedric Soares is ageing and finds it hard to cover the ground as he used to at Southampton previously.
The midfield situation is also tricky. Thomas Partey has now left for AFCON duty while Granit Xhaka returned to action in November from a two-month injury. Albert Sambi-Lokonga is an able player but is still adapting to a new country and a league. Mohamed Elneny has also left for the AFCON, and has less than six months left on his contract and is touted for a move to Galatasaray, as per Fanatik (h/t The Sun).
Maitland-Niles, who has played as a full-back for the majority of his Arsenal career can also deputize in the midfield. In fact, he claimed that he preferred playing in the centre of the pitch during his loan move to The Hawthorns. Thus, given that injuries can take place at any time, letting him leave could hamper our Top 4 hopes. The North London club needs reasonable depth in every area on the pitch and letting one of the most versatile members of the squad leave might not be a wise decision.
Arsenal would be wise to not accept the terms of the loan deal
Primarily, the Gunners would be smart to not entertain any bids for the English international. However, if they feel that they have the necessary squad depth and can function without the full-back turned midfielder, they would be clever to renegotiate the terms of the loan deal offered by A.S Roma.
The Italian club launched a bid 10 days ago that would see Maitland-Niles join them on a loan deal with an option to buy him for €10million. They are likely to be aware that the player only has a contract until 2023 at the Emirates, thereby leaving with only a year left on his deal in the summer. If the player does impress in Italy, Arsenal need to retain his services.
The academy graduate is still only 24 and has several years ahead of him. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka shall turn 30 this year or in the next one. There needs to be a turnover at some point, and our future midfield line could be in the hands of Sambi-Lokonga and the Englishman. Thus, if Arsenal do choose to let him leave, they need to ensure it is not a permanent transfer.
The current squad is a young and bustling one. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Aaron Ramsdale are below the age of 25. They are set to form the core of the team soon, and Maitland-Niles could do the same.
AS Roma are still waiting for Arsenal decision over Ainsley Maitland-Niles proposal made days ago. Loan bid with buy option for €10m on the table – no obligation included. 🏴 #AFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 4, 2022
José Mourinho wants him – but deal still not fully agreed between clubs. This week will be key.
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He did ask to leave in the summer via his Instagram account, as quoted by The Guardian, causing a scene. Regardless, he has been used extensively in the Cup competitions and could be used further once the FA Cup begins. The final decision might lie in the hands of Edu and Arteta, but the Gunners need to make a decision on a permanent deal after the end of the season following a careful evaluation of the squad.