Arsenal have a decision to make when Ainsley Maitland-Niles returns to North London this summer, as the 24-year-old has one year remaining on his deal at the Emirates Stadium and is surplus to requirements under Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners were willing to sell Maitland-Niles for £20m a year ago but had to settle for a short-term loan to AS Roma without a buying option attached, meaning his contract situation was just pushed back a year.
Arsenal have to act this summer, otherwise the England international could leave on a free transfer in 2023. It doesn’t seem likely they will extend his contract, however, as Maitland-Niles has amassed only 748 minutes of Premier League football in the last two seasons. So a move could be on the cards.
With only one year remaining on his deal and Maitland-Niles’ loan at Roma not quite going to plan, Arsenal won’t get £20m this summer. Reports suggest the Gunners would accept £10m now, but it remains to be seen which club will stump up the money.
Maitland-Niles has made 132 appearances in all competitions for the London outfit, scoring three goals with eight assists. After working hard to get more playing time, he’s since fallen down the pecking order in recent years and has too much competition for a starting place.
Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny are standing in Maitland-Niles’ way in midfield while Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pépé and Gabriel Martinelli are standing in his way on the wing. He’s spent 18 years at Arsenal but may have played his final game.
Maitland-Niles has been an Arsenal player all his professional career, but he’s never managed to nail down a starting place for an extended period. He’s been loaned out to West Bromwich Albion (February 2021 – May 2021) and Roma (January 2022 – present) in the last two seasons, so the writing has long been on the wall.