Journalist Paul Brown believes that Ainsley Maitland-Niles is now open to the idea of playing as a full-back for Arsenal this season.
What did Brown say about Maitland-Niles?
The 24-year-old left Arsenal to join West Brom on loan at the start of February, after making it clear during the January transfer window that he wanted to operate as a central midfielder. He managed to get regular minutes in this position for the Baggies, but has since returned to the Emirates Stadium after West Brom dropped down to the Championship in May.
Now back at Arsenal, Maitland-Niles appears to have changed his stance on the role that he wants to play, with Brown claiming that he seems to be happy to be used on the right flank this term.
He told GIVEMESPORT: “To be honest, it does sound like Ainsley Maitland-Niles has changed his own view a little bit because a few months ago, when he went to West Brom, he was determined to be an attacking midfielder, and thought that was where he should play as his favourite position, and he thought he could do it, and he did play for them there.
“Now, it seems he wants to concentrate on being a right-back or a wing-back because he thinks he’s got more chance of international football or making the grade, in those terms, in that position. So, it does sound like his objectives have changed slightly.”
How has Maitland-Niles started this season?
Arsenal have had a difficult start to the season, and it has been far from a smooth ride for Maitland-Niles as well.
The Gunners lost their opening three league matches, and the England international was somewhat of an outcast in these fixtures, playing just 19 minutes from the bench in total.
Towards the end of the transfer window, he made his frustration at his lack of game time known by posting on Instagram: “All I want to do is go where I’m wanted & where I’m going to play." Everton were reportedly interested in taking Maitland-Niles on loan, but a move failed to materialise.
With Granit Xhaka suspended and Thomas Partey just returning from injury, Maitland-Niles was handed his first league start of the season this past weekend against Norwich, helping his side to a much-needed 1-0 win.
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Which position could Maitland-Niles make his own this season?
As things stand, it is hard to see Maitland-Niles, who earns £52,000-a-week, establishing himself in one particular position over the coming months.
He may have been handed a rare start on Saturday in central midfield, but when everyone is available, it seems that he is behind the likes of Xhaka, Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga in the pecking order.
His best chance of breaking into the team could well be at right-back. Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares both featured in this role at the start of the campaign, but neither man looked particularly convincing. The north London club have now signed Takehiro Tomiyasu, though, and it looks like he might be the first-choice option for the foreseeable future.
When it comes to getting back into the England setup, Maitland-Niles faces an even tougher task. Gareth Southgate has the likes of Mason Mount, Jesse Lingard and Phil Foden who can all occupy the No. 10 role, while the national team have an abundance of talent at right-back in the shape of Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James.
Maitland-Niles is going to have to take his game to another level altogether if he wants to catch Southgate's eye once more.News Now - Sport News