One out, One in for Arsenal’s midfield

Report are (and by the time I hit publish the deal might have gone through) that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will leave Arsenal on loan to join Roma.

It is a good deal for the Hale end graduate and one that I hope will leave to his permanent departure.

That is not because I do not like the kid (although at 24 he is now a man) but because I want to see him crack on with his career.

Like Eddie Nketiah, Maitland-Niles has had a couple of chance to leave on a permanent basis blocked.

In the last 18 months, he has had offers from Wolves, Leicester City and Everton. Each time he has been blocked in leaving by Mikel Arteta.

It is one of my biggest criticsms of Arteta; he only seems to fancy a player when they have one foot out the door – think Maitland-Niles, Nketiah and Calum Chambers.

Since the deal to join wolves collapsed at the last minute in the summer of 2020, Maitland-Niles has started just 7 Premier League games for the club. He started a further 14 whilst on loan at WBA.

It is getting to the point that we are messing him about. So I hope he sparkles on loan at Roma and that leaves to a move somewhere that will give him a better opportunity to add to his 5 England caps.

So working on the basis that Maitland-Niles is off, Arsenal will surely need to bring in a new midfielder in January.

Both Thomas Partey and Mo Elneny are expected to leave for the African Cup of Nations in the next couple of days. That will leave Arsenal with just Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga as the senior midfielders. The latter of which has now started a game in over a month.

Beyond those two, Arteta’s other options would be Charlie Patino, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odergaard.

None of them have the defensive output that Partey has and all 3 will be a big risk playing deeper (the couple of times we played with either Smith Rowe or Odergaard deeper this season we got over run in the midfield).

All indicators are that we will bring someone in to reinforce that position in January. Likely to be a 6 month loan deal. But like with the Dani Cabellos move it could lead to something longer.

There is one obvious midfielder in European football currently sniffing for a move out of his club on temporary basis. He would have Premier League experience, and as both the defensive output, work rate and passing ability that Arteta demands.

Ladies and gentlemen; Georginio Wijnaldum.

Keenos

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