Arsenal ace endures unique three years with two relegations and a European crown
Arsenal ace Ainsley Maitland-Niles has endured a bizarre three-year spell with two relegations and a European crown.
The Hale End Academy graduate, 25, has spent the 2022/23 campaign on loan at Premier League strugglers Southampton, who were relegated from the top flight on Saturday (May 13th) following a 2-0 defeat at home to Fulham. Maitland-Niles has made 27 appearances in all competitions for the south coast side, registering just one goal contribution in a 3-3 draw with Tottenham.
The versatile defender-cum midfielder has not played for Arsenal since November 2021, and the north Londoners have already confirmed he is free to find a new home at the end of the season.
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A permanent move to Southampton would see Maitland-Niles playing Championship football next term – a stellar drop from his Europa Conference League outings at Roma only last season. The five-cap England international was part of the side that claimed the inaugural tertiary European trophy, working under Jose Mourinho.
Prior to the six-month stint in the Italian capital, Maitland-Niles spent the back end of the 2020/21 campaign at West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies suffered the same fate as the Saints despite a late managerial change – with Sam Allardyce unable to maintain his 100 per cent survival record at the eighth time of asking.
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Speaking after Arsenal opted not to extend his contract Maitland-Niles said: "It’s been a great journey but it has come to an end now [at Arsenal]. It’s time for a fresh start and to find a new home.
"I’m looking forward to that but, at the same time, my head’s not quite there yet and it’s all about what’s happening now with Southampton.
He added: "Southampton is a great club to be at and progress and get some minutes under my belt. Of course, if they were to make an offer, I’ll be more than happy to stay."
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