Newcastle United were reportedly interested in signing Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal during the summer transfer window and it could have been a repeat of the masterclass that saw Joe Willock join the club.
While it is in some ways a positive that Arsenal are now considering the Toon as a genuine Premier League rival, Eddie Howe will no doubt be disappointed to miss out on such a versatile player.
The Englishman has featured regularly at full-back and in central-midfield during his time at Arsenal, making 132 senior appearances, and in loan spells at West Brom and Roma, so could have been a solid addition to Howe’s squad.
Although he has lost his way at Arsenal in recent years, Mikel Arteta was still full of praise for the youngster last season, saying:
“He has a huge talent because he’s versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch.”
He especially would have been useful as cover following the recent injuries to Emil Krafth and Bruno Guimaraes, which have left the Toon a little short on squad depth, but unfortunately, he is now lining up for another Premier League side instead.
Had the £35k-per-week earner made the switch to St James’ Park, he could have followed in the footsteps of former teammate Willock, who initially joined the Toon on loan from Arsenal in 2021, before making his move permanent that summer after hitting a remarkable eight goals in just 14 appearances.
He has remained a regular with the Magpies ever since, with 52 Newcastle appearances under his belt, and at just 23 years old, he looks likely to be a key part of Howe’s revolution at the club.
Maitland-Niles is also a young Arsenal academy graduate who is keen for regular football and had he been allowed to join Howe’s side, there is no reason why he couldn’t have had a similar impact to Willock in Howe’s side, so the manager will surely be gutted to have missed out on him.