Mikel Arteta lived up to his promise to Ainsley Maitland-Niles by starting him in midfield as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half strike against Norwich gave Arsenal a crucial three points
Mikel Arteta has given a clear indication that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will not be sold in January as Everton prepare another move for the versatile player.
It was reported that the Gunners blocked a deal from the Toffees before the transfer window closed despite his plea to the club to let him leave.
And the Merseyside club are planning to revive their interest in the New Year, according to ESPN.
Maitland-Niles has been frustrated with the lack of first-team minutes at the Emirates and took to social media to vent his anger at Arsenal’s decision to hold onto him this summer.
He said on Instagram : “All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play.”
David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Should Ainsley Maitland-Niles keep his place in Arsenal’s midfield? Comment below
Arteta would then hold clear-the-air talks with the Englishman as he made it clear to him that he was a part of the club’s long-term plans.
He said: “Any private conversations with players, on the role we believe they can have in the team, is always discussed openly but privately and that is how we resolve the matters.
“I am happy he has stayed, that was our intention and he is another player in the squad.”
And the Spaniard lived up to his promise by starting him in Arsenal ‘s 1-0 win over Norwich City as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half strike gave the Gunners a much-needed three points.
And not only that, Arteta played him in his preferred position in the middle of the park with Granit Xhaka suspended.
The problem with Maitland-Niles is that Arsenal have never been able to find his best position, but it seems they might have discovered it.
His performance alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga was encouraging as he broke up play on countless occasions and drove Arsenal forward in the other direction.
It will certainly have given Arteta some food for thought going forward and it will be interesting to see if he will continue to utilise him in the middle of the park.
It was feared there might have been no going back after Maitland-Niles’s outburst on social media, but Arteta put a lot of faith in him by starting him in midfield against the Canaries given his job is on the line after Arsenal’s horrible start to the Premier League season.
That call is an emphatic response to the report that surfaced before kick-off and if Everton decide to reignite their interest in Maitland-Niles in January, there might be a similar outcome.