The Saints are among a number of Premier League clubs said to be interested in landing the 24-year-old midfielder, who can also play at full-back, as he searches for regular first-team football away from the Emirates Stadium.
In a recent interview with GiveMeSport, journalist Dean Jones has suggested that Southampton are leading the race for the England international.
He said of Maitland-Niles: “Southampton are the most likely to get him at the moment, but there are as many as five clubs in the background waiting to see what happens with that.
“If that move doesn’t happen for any reason, then there will be a real battle to sign him before deadline day, but Saints does seem a good fit for him, and I think he’s up for the move if it can all come together.”
Southampton desperately need to strengthen their full-back options before the transfer window shuts. Tino Livramento and Romain Perraud are both currently sidelined through injury, which has forced Ralph Hasenhuttl to deploy Moussa Djenepo as a left wing-back in the opening three Premier League fixtures.
The Austrian has also utilised Yan Valery as a centre-back in a five-man defensive system, which again suggests that further additions are needed if the Saints are to improve on a woeful defensive record which saw them ship 67 goals in the top flight last season.
Maitland-Niles, who Arsenal reportedly want to sell for just under £13m, would give Hasenhuttl cover at right-back and could allow him to switch Kyle Walker-Peters to left-back, as we saw last season following Livramento’s impressive form on the right.
The former England international can also play in the middle and would provide cover there, and having such a versatile player in the squad can only be a good thing for the Saints as they look to avoid flirting with relegation again this season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was full of praise for Maitland-Niles last term, saying: “He has a huge talent because he’s versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch.”
Signing the young midfielder on loan with the potential to buy him would suit Southampton immensely, and at 24, he still has the potential to become a great player in the Premier League.
Therefore, Saints fans will surely be delighted to hear that their club are currently the frontrunners in the race to sign Maitland-Niles.