Mikel Arteta has hinted that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will move into midfield following Arsenal’s January business, per Football.London.
Maitland-Niles has played primarily as a right-back this season, making 14 appearances in the position, but the Gunners recruited a new full-back in the transfer window.
Cedric Soares arrived on loan from Southampton, while the Gunners also signed Pablo Mari on loan from Flamengo.
And Arteta has hinted that Maitland-Niles’ versatility will mean that he will continue to play regularly for the club despite the Saints full-back moving to north London.
He said in his press conference prior to the Gunners’ clash with Burnley on Sunday: “He can play in various positions and do really well at full-back as well.
“He’s a very useful player with great speed, technically gifted, a good passer of the ball and he can play as an attacking midfielder because he’s a threat every time with his runs.
“And he can play a holding midfielder because he’s played a lot there in his career.
“It’s good to have players that can play in various positions.”
Maitland-Niles’ versatility is such a boon for manager Arteta.
He has played five times as a right midfielder this term and, per Transfermarkt, he has been deployed as a right-back, a central midfielder, a defensive midfielder, a left winger, a left-back and even as a centre-back during his career.
His chameleonic ability to fill multiple positions means that the Gunners are unlikely to face problems when it comes to strengthening.
Bringing in Cedric means that they have a specialist right-back and Maitland-Niles can simply move somewhere else on the pitch.
That is a boost for the former Manchester City coach.