A players future is a delicate thing.
It can change from settled to turbulent and undecided in the blink of an eye – and it seems that is the case for a certain Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The 22 year old last season looked very much to be heading for the exit door. A dearth of opportunities for AMN in the early part of Mikel Arteta’s tenure at the club meant that the promising Hale End graduate was very much up for grabs.
Post-lockdown – and Arsenal’s titanic Semi-Final and Final FA Cup victories especially – and Maitland-Niles had turned his Arsenal career around.
AMN put in huge performances in the middle of the park for Arsenal – and his selection, never mind the position – was a big indicator that Arteta had given him another chance and trusted him to do a job.
To be selected for such huge games was a big contrast to where he was in his Arsenal career prior to this – and it looked to everyone that AMN was very much a part of Arteta’s vision for Arsenal’s future.
Then, news broke over negotiations between Wolves and Arsenal over a four year deal for the right-back / midfielder. A fee of around £20m was being mentioned too.
It seems as though AMN and Arsenal are indeed about to part ways.
The deal is still not cemented, but the Master of Arsenal transfer goings-on, David Ornstein, broke the news via Social Media – which is normally the herald for all things true.
AMN had turned the corner at Arsenal and was putting in performances that were at the desired level. He had won the trust of his coach – so why would he choose to move now?
It could be two things.
Firstly, Arteta may not be able to give him assurances of gametime. Sure, AMN would be a valued resource, but in terms of a nailed-down spot, only three or four would be able to boast of that. For the rest, it is a fair fight.
Alternatively, AMN may well be in the market for an inflated contract and has asked his agent to find out what he could get. With Wolves eafger to tie this up, it seems that the Midlands side can offer both the money and the first team starts that AMN craves. It could even be that Arteta needs to sell players before he acquires anyone else, which puts players like AMN, Holding and Mustafi at risk of departure.
It is still unclear what could be sparking the move, but it does mean that Arteta is condoning the sale. That indicates that Arteta feels he can sell AMN and still ensure the squad we have is stronger than last season.
We never want to see one of our own leave and should he decide to go for pastures new, rest assured that we all wish him well for the future.