Southampton are reportedly eyeing a move for Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles this month, as they look to add to their full-back options.
According to David Ornstein in The Athletic, Southampton have joined the race to sign the 23-year-old, whilst West Brom are also pushing hard to sign him.
Manager Mikel Arteta is reportedly keen on the idea of him leaving the Emirates on loan before Monday’s deadline, with Southampton the preferred destination for the versatile midfielder.
It also suggests that his potential arrival would not change their stance on Ryan Bertrand, who they still hope will sign a new contract with the South Coast club, despite interest from the Gunners.
Ralph Hasenhuttl is currently very low on squad depth in his full-back positions, which was exposed on Tuesday night when they were defeated by Arsenal, with youngsters Jake Vokins and Yan Valery both struggling in the absence of first-choice full-backs Kyle Walker-Peters and Bertrand.
The Saints had been heavily linked with Brandon Williams, as he can play as both a left-back and a right-back, but that potential loan deal now looks to be dead in the water.
Therefore, signing Maitland-Niles, who has proven himself to be extremely versatile during his time with Arsenal, could prove to be an excellent price of business by the Southampton board.
If anything, the 23-year-old would add a lot more experience than Williams would have done, as he has managed 121 appearances for the senior side at Arsenal in his career thus far, contributing three goals and seven assists, compared to the 42 senior appearances Williams has made with the Red Devils.
The Arsenal academy graduate has also earned three caps for England in his career, and a successful loan move could give him an outside chance of featuring in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros.
Earlier this season, Arteta was full of praise for the youngster, saying:
“He is evolving really good. I think he’s made – in this year – big, big progress and he’s in a much better place than what he was a year ago and he needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Maitland-Niles has struggled for regular game time in Arteta’s side this season, with a lot of his appearances coming from the bench, but his form in the Europa League demonstrates that he would be a quality addition to Hasenhuttl’s side.
Therefore, Martin Semmens should ensure that he brings the Arsenal ace to St Mary’s before the transfer window shuts, as he could be a really useful player for Hasenhuttl to have in his squad.
And, in other news… Hasenhuttl handed big blow with teen sensation once linked to Barcelona