Tag Archives: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Nearly every Arsenal player “up for sale”

Hector Bellerin is Arsenal’s best right back.

He is amongst the best full backs in Europe, which is highlighted by the fact that Champions League finalists PSG are in pole position for him, with Bayern Munich and Juventus sniffing behind.

You do not gain that quality of suitors if you are a poor player.

Mikel Arteta rates Bellerin. He likes him as a player and as a person. He would not want to lose him. But sometimes circumstance contrive and an exit you do not really want to happen, happens.

What the Hector Bellerin situation shows is what we knew earlier this season. That nearly every Arsenal player has their price, and would be up for sale if that price is met.

Excluding new signings (including Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares and Willian Saliba), there are only 5 unsellable players in the Arsenal squad:

Kieran Tierney
Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang
Nicolas Pepe
Bukayo Saka
Gabriel Martinelli

Outside of those 5, Arsenal have been willing to listen to offers for any other player this summer. Including Hector Bellerin.

Whilst Bellerin is a top right back, he can be improved on. And eve if we decide to go with Cedric Soares and Aisnley Maitland-Niles as the options at right back, he raises key funds to improve the side in positions that are more influential than right back.

The news about Bellerin was accompanied by pundits saying “for the right price” and like with many other Arsenal players, it will come down to money.

“The right price” at the moment seems to be whatever cash is still needed to fund moves for Thomas Partey and / or Houssem Aouar. That pair would cost the club around £90million.

The Arsenal XI would be weaker with Maitland-Niles at right back over Bellerin. But would be stronger with Partey in a midfield 3 alongside Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

Arteta then needs to decide whether signing Partey strengthens the team more than selling Bellerin weakens it. I feel the answer is yes.

Looking forward to a team without Bellerin, Arsenal would probably be relying on Maitland-Niles as first choice right back. He is suspect defensively.

Maitland-Niles is more sorted to the 343 that Arteta has played recently.

If Mikel sticks to that formation, Maitland-Niles will be an upgrade on Bellerin at right wing back, due to his superior attacking.

However if Partey joins, Arteta will likely switch to 433. That will put pressure on Maitland-Niles defensively.

However a midfield 3 rather than a 2 (in a 4231) will provide Maitland-Niles with extra cover in defence.

The right hand side of that midfield 3 (likely to be Partey) plays a bit wider than they would in a midfield 2. This allows them to drift wide to help out the full defensively, knowing they still have their 2 midfield team mates inside.

Partey would provide Mialtnad-Niles with extra defensive assistance.

Liverpool won the league with a right back that can not defend in Trent Alexander-Arnold.

They did this by overloading their right hand side with attacking play, and having Jordan Henderson drift right to cover the full-back.

Teams would be reluctant to attack Liverpool knowing that they had Mo Salah and Alexander-Arnold coming the other way. And when they did attack they often found Henderson or Fabinho as an extra man on the right hand side.

So at Arsenal in a 433, Arsenal would overload the right hand side with Pepe and Maitland-Niles as an attacking double act. And then would have Partey drift across to to reinforce the flank defensively.

In games where we might want extra defensive cover, the option would be there to play Cedric Soares instead of Maitland-Niles.

We will only be able to truly judge the squad Arteta is building once the window is shut.

Arsenal will have to sell a few popular players – the likes of Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Rob Holding – to finance improving the squad over all.

Looking forward to 2020/21, if we sold Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Torreira, Lacazette& Chambers, whilst gained Cedric, Gabriel, Saliba, Mari, Partey, Aouar and Willian, the first XI and squad will undoubtedly be stronger than 2019/20.

You need to break a few eggs to make an omelete.



£20million for Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a “good price”

It is 2020, not 2019

There is not a lot of money flying about football this summer.

Unlike 2019 when 6 clubs spent over £100million – including Aston Villa and Everton, and the likes of Leicester City spent over £90million and West Ham just shy of £80million, this summer will see spending dramatically reduced for all clubs bar Chelsea and Manchester City.

With COVID19 restrictions meaning crowds are unlikely, income at all clubs is going to be down. This means every side has less to spend.

So £20million in 2020 is more like £25-30million in 2019.

We are all going to have to get used to slightly lower transfer fees.

Of course, it also works for us. Getting Gabriel for £25million feels cheap.

No potential

Maitland-Niles is now 23-years-old. He is moving out of the “potential” bracket and into “established”.

This impacts Maitland-Niles fee as clubs will no longer spend money on what Maitland-Niles might become, but what he actually is.

So what is Maitland-Niles?

He is a 23-year-old versatile player with 100 games for Arsenal.

Over the last 3 years when he has been a regular in the Arsenal first team squad, he has not regularly started.

The majority of his games have been at right back, where he has been exposed a little bit defensively. Whilst at right wing back in a back 3 he has excelled.

He wants to play central midfield, but has very little top flight experience in that position.

So a club will be taking a risk with Maitland-Niles if they plan to put him central midfield. Likewise most clubs will not buy him to play right back.

It is interesting to see that it is Wolves he is seemingly heading for.

A team that often play 3 at the back and have just lost their Jonny for about 8 months.

Jonny covers both left wing back and right wing back for Wolves, so you can see why they are targeting Maitland-Niles.

£20million for a wing back is a decent chunk of cash.

Maitland-Niles is certainly no Declan Rice (midfielder) or Ben Chillwell (establish Premier League left back).

Arsenal do not need him

Often the price of a player is driven by how much a team still needs him.

Take Ben Chillwell. He is still very much in Leicester’s plans, so Chelsea have to pay a premium for him.

The reality is Maitland-Niles is 3rd choice right back, 2rd choice left back, and about 6th or 7th choice in midfield. He is very much surplus to requirements.

Getting the cash in is more important than holding out as long as possible for the highest fee.

Leicester would not be too upset if Chelsea failed to meet their valuation and Chillwell spent another 12 months in the Midlands.

Arsenal probably would be annoyed if they ended up keeping Maitland-Niles over £5million.

Sell to invest

As discussed, Maitland-Niles is surplus to requirements. Every Premier League club also needs to sell to buy.

These 2 factors drive down the price slightly.

It is like part-exchanging your car.

You might value your car at £5,000, but if £4,500 still allows you to buy your new car, you will take the lower price enabling yourself to drive away with your new motor the same day.

£20million for Arsenal might be just what is needed to sign Thomas Partey or Houssem Aouar.

A quick sale enables Arsenal to increase their offers for targets elsewhere. Targets that improve the first team.

Alex Iwobi

A few people have mentioned that Alex Iwobi went for £35million last summer.

The Iwobi deal sums everything up:

  • Iwobi was more established than Maitland-Niles
  • Iwobi signed for Everton in 2019 when players value was higher than now
  • Arsenal did not particularly need to sell Iwobi
  • The move happened on deadline day
  • Everton were desperate for a winger
  • Everton had a big chunk of cash to spend

Throw these factors in a pot and you end up with Iwobi costing Everton £35million.

They were desperate to buy, Arsenal not desperate to sell.

Fast forward 12 months, I do not see any side desperate to sign Maitland-Niles out there. Not many teams looking to add an inexperienced central midfielder who has mainly played at full back.

There are more establish options available if you are after a central midfielder (Lewis Cook), and better options available if you are after a left back or right back (Nicolás Tagliafico). Being a wing back, you become quite a niche signing.


£20million feels like a good deal for both clubs.

Arsenal sell a fringe player who would get very little game time next year, adding cash to the purchase pot for a first team player. Wolves get their wing back to cover their first choice who is out injured.

My gut feeling is that those who are saying it is too cheap are judging him by 2018/19 prices, not 2019/20.

£20million for Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a good price.


Selling Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Wolves be a HUGE mistake

When The Daily Mirror reported last week that Tottenham Hotspur were interest in signing Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the story was rightly dismissed as the type of ridiculous rumour you see in every transfer window. It would be nonsensical for Arsenal to allow a Hale End graduate, who is now a first-team regular, to trade north London territories.

However, it became clear last week that multiple Premier League clubs are interested in securing Maitland-Niles’ services. Wolves, Newcastle United and Everton are all thought to be keen on capturing the 22-year-old.

Read on below for our breakdown of why his sale should not be sanctioned.

Pre-Lockdown Concerns

Following Mikel Arteta’s arrival as Arsenal manager in December last year, the Spaniard deemed Maitland-Niles surplus to requirements. After the England U23 international did not play a minute of Arteta’s first five games in charge, he was told he would be free to leave in the summer.

A key reason behind this was that Arteta felt Maitland-Niles was unwilling to adapt to playing at right-back. The youngster was keen to pursue a move elsewhere so he could start in his preferred central midfield position.

Post-Lockdown Revival

When football was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the break allowed Maitland-Niles to turn over a new leaf. He realised that he would either have to play at right-back or he would simply not get any action in an Arsenal shirt.

Therefore, his post-lockdown emergence is an extremely encouraging sign.

A sparkling performance at Wolves coupled with impressive displays against Sheffield United and Manchester City showed Arteta what he needed to know: Maitland-Niles could fulfil his role at right-back with consistence and confidence.

Wembley Hero

It was in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea where his individual performance was most important. Playing as a left-wing back, he was incisive in attack and dependable in defence, helping the Gunners to lift the FA Cup for the 14th time.

The most important aspect of Maitland-Niles’ efforts at Wembley were that they were a demonstration, to Arteta and the player himself, that he possesses the talent and ability to become a reliable starter for the foreseeable future. Therein lies the reason why it would be such a grave error to sell him to another Premier League club: he is only going to improve from this moment onwards, so should be allowed to develop at Arsenal rather than enhancing the squad of another top-flight club. Having previously been petulant and pessimistic about Arteta’s request for him to play as a wing-back, he has now made that role his own.

Versatility is Key

The Hale End product’s versatility makes him an extremely useful player to have in your squad as he can cover either flank, as a full-back or winger, as well as central midfield. Were he to be moved on, his current value is a cause for concern. Reports say Wolves him at around £20m, but for a young, home-grown academy product, Maitland-Niles’ price will only increase with the more game time he sees.

This makes the permanent signing of Cédric all the more baffling. Why, with two solid right-backs in their squad in Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerín, did Arsenal offer a four-year contract to a player who will turn 31 at the end of August? With Maitland-Niles and Bellerín both having strong finishes to the 2019/20 season, it would be a seismic shock if Cédric were to establish himself as a starter for the upcoming campaign.

Change of Attitude

Arteta has previously outlined the importance of having his players on the same page as he looks to rebuild an Arsenal side that suffered its worst league finish in 25 years. A reinvigorated Maitland-Niles is exactly the type of player he desires.

Someone who has shown a change in attitude coupled with a willingness to improve both on and off the field, the Arsenal youngster is a key piece of Arteta’s puzzle and should be persuaded to stay at all costs.

Zac Campbell