Arsenal have loaned midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Bromwich Albion until the end of the season.
Maitland-Niles has struggled for game-time so far this season, with opportunities for first-team football thin on the ground at the moment.
Though Maitland-Niles is considered by the club to be a utility player, the player believes his future to be in the midfield, specifically in central midfield, a progression that manager Mikel Arteta does not seem to agree with.
Maitland-Niles had the opportunity to join Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer for a reported deal between £15m – £20m, however, Arteta deemed the player too crucial to his squad plans to sell in the summer.
This January, Maitland-Niles was a target for Leicester City, West Brom and Southampton. Though Leicester City were Maitland-Niles’ preference with an option to buy later, however, the idea of strengthening a rival did not sit well with Arsenal nor did the idea of an option rather than an obligation.
The other issues surrounding the loan have been where Maitland-Niles will actually be deployed. Though the player wishes to be deployed in midfield, Arsenal prefer for him to be played at full-back, where they see his long-term development, something the player is reportedly not too keen on.
It is fair to say that Maitland-Niles would not be short of game-time at West Brom, given that the team has so far conceding a whopping fifty goals in the Premier League this season, fourteen more than their closes competitors and manager Sam Allardyce’s preference for defensive solidity.
Whether or not Maitland-Niles is able to fulfil his chances of playing in midfield at Arsenal or on loan remain to be seen, however, it is essential that the player receive more minutes than he currently is.