Southampton are reportedly interested in signing Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles this month as they look to add reinforcements in defence but look to have been handed a blow in their pursuit of the 23-year-old, as he prefers a move to West Brom.
According to Sky Sports, Southampton and Arsenal entered preliminary talks over a six-month loan deal that would see the England international move to St Mary’s, but it is West Brom who are currently leading the race.
Maitland-Niles wants to play regular football, in midfield, which is perhaps something Ralph Hasenhuttl cannot offer at present, due to the form of James Ward-Prowse and Ibrahima Diallo, with Oriol Romeu also set to return from injury.
If he were to join Southampton, you would imagine he would play second fiddle to both Ryan Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters in the full-back positions, having played there regularly during his time at the Emirates.
He has previously admitted that he is a midfielder rather than a full-back, so you can understand why he might favour a move to relegation-threatened West Brom, where is more likely to get minutes in his favoured position.
However, this comes as a blow to the Austrian, who has already allowed back-up left-back Jake Vokins to leave on loan this month, whilst Yan Valery is currently the only fit right-back, with Walker-Peters sidelined through injury at this moment in time.
Maitland-Niles would have been an excellent player to have, therefore, as he can cover both right-back and left-back, and has plenty of experience doing so, having made 121 appearances for the Gunners in his career thus far.
Therefore, unless Hasenhuttl can convince him to make the move to St Mary’s, it looks as if the Austrian will have to look elsewhere for defensive cover, and considering that time of the window is running out, that is undoubtedly a blow for the Saints.