Why Arsenal cannot afford to lose wantaway midfielder despite him being kept “under false pretences”

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Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles keen on a move away

Arsenal have been here before.

In the dying days of the summer transfer window, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was keen on a move away from the club, with Everton interested.

This offer was rejected by the club, leading to Maitland-Niles taking a not so subtle swipe at the club, saying that he just wants to go somewhere where he can get regular first-team football.

And, despite having held clear the air talks with Mikel Arteta, little has improved for the England international. All told, he has made just 8 Premier League appearances, of which just 2 were starts.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that he remains unhappy, with the Daily Mail reporting that:

Sportsmail understands that the England international is irritated at his peripheral role at the Emirates this season having been told he would have the opportunity to play more minutes having made clear his intention to leave the club in the summer in search of regular football. 

Meanwhile, Mokbel claims:

“There is a feeling that the club kept Maitland-Niles at the club in the summer under false pretences.” 

However, the Gunners must keep hold of AMN, at least until the summer.

Why Arsenal must keep Maitland-Niles until at least the summer

With five midfielders to call upon and no European football to share out the minutes, it is easy to see why Maitland-Niles has become something of a victim of Thomas Partey’s pricetag and Sambi Lokonga’s breakout.

However, come January and that will all change. Both Partey and Mohamed Elneny are due (COVID-19 permitting) to jet off to play in the Africa Cup of Nations, which could see Arteta without the pair for up to a month.

With a traditionally busy January, Maitland-Niles will suddenly be one of three options in the centre of midfield, not one of five. Granted, he may still not get the regular playing time that he seeks, but should he be allowed to depart he will leave the Gunners well short in the centre of the park should Xhaka or Lokonga pick up injuries.

It may well be against his wishes of the England man, but Arsenal are in no position to play semantics.

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