Arsenal loaning out their handy 23-year-old star would be nothing but a blunder


Why Arsenal should avoid loaning out Ainsley Maitland-Niles

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are in talks with several clubs across the continent over a loan move for Ainsley Maitland-Niles before the end of the January transfer window.

As per the report, the 23-year-old is desperate to play regularly to boost his chances of making it into England’s European Championship squad which is scheduled to be held later in the year.

Maitland-Niles has started only 5 times for the Gunners in the Premier League so far this season, prompting him to push for a temporary exit from the Emirates. Wolves could look to reignite their interest in the utility star after failing with a bid for the Gunners graduate back in the summer. (h/t Daily Mail)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles in action (Getty Images)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles in action (Getty Images)

A valuable squad player?

Maitland-Niles might not be one of the first names on Mikel Arteta’s teamsheet but he remains a useful squad player for the Gunners. The 23-year-old has already racked up 21 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal so far this season, which clearly underlines that he is very much rated by the manager. 

The homegrown star managed as many as 15 starts in the league last term as both first-choice full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney struggled with injuries. However, Maitland-Niles’ game time has understandably taken a toll this season, with both Tierney and Bellerin featuring as undisputed starters. 

everton v arsenal premier league
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 19: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal is challenged by Richarlison of Everton during the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 19, 2020, in Liverpool, England.(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Nevertheless, the England international has done his reputation no harm whenever he has been called into action by Arteta. Maitland-Niles has played as a full-back, while also making several appearances in a holding midfield role. He’s yet to score but has contributed with a couple of assists.

Arsenal can’t afford to lose Maitland-Niles

In truth, it would definitely make sense for Maitland-Niles to seek a loan move this month. However, a similar stance wouldn’t particularly favour Arsenal heading into a hectic and crucial second half of the campaign.

The Gunners have fought their way back into the top-four race after a poor start to the season, winning five out of their last six league fixtures. Still seven points adrift of the Champions League places, Arsenal certainly can’t afford any more slip-ups. 

arsenal v southampton premier league
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal battles for possession with Stuart Armstrong of Southampton during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates Stadium on December 16, 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Adrian Dennis – Pool/Getty Images)

Arteta, to that end, needs to have adequate depth in his squad to avoid a potential burnout. Having Maitland-Niles in the mix would certainly make a lot of difference, given his versatility. 

Arsenal are already short of cover in the full-back department following the departure of Sead Kolasinac on loan earlier this month. Bellerin and Tierney have featured regularly this season but both have had their fair share of struggles with injuries in the recent past. 

Cedric Soares presents an experienced back-up but Maitland-Niles’ versatility still makes him a key asset to the club. The Gunners are already out of the FA Cup but with the Europa League set to return to the fold in February, he is likely to enjoy more involvement. 

arsenal v crystal palace premier league
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 14: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 14, 2021, in London, England. (Photo by Alastair Grant – Pool/Getty Images)

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Suffice to say, Arsenal shouldn’t make the mistake of parting ways with Ainsley Maitland-Niles this month. The 23-year-old already has a fair bit of experience in the top-flight. He could well come in handy as the Gunners strive for a top-four finish.