Southampton are once again being linked with a move for Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and the Englishman could be the dream addition to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad.
According to the BBC, Southampton and Leicester City have reignited their interest in the 23-year-old, whilst Sean Dyche is also keen on adding him to Burnley’s squad this summer.
The England international spent the second half of last season on loan with West Brom after losing his regular spot in Mikel Arteta’s side, and it seems as if he will have to depart the Gunners if he wants to be a Premier League regular next season.
Although Southampton were heavily linked with signing Maitland-Niles on loan in January, they were keen for full-back cover and the Arsenal man has regularly suggested that he sees his future as a midfielder, which led him to join the Baggies on loan instead.
Hasenhuttl has regularly shown a preference for versatile players during his time as Southampton boss, and Maitland-Niles’ excellent versatility immediately marks him out as the sort of player the Austrian would love to have in his squad.
In his short career thus far, the 23-year-old has featured regularly at right-back, left-back, right-midfield, left-midfield and central midfield, so could definitely challenge to be a regular for the Saints in any of those positions next season, should he make the move to St Mary’s.
Hasenhuttl is low on full-back options and central-midfield options, so Maitland-Niles could easily fill in there when required, whilst he would be a more defensively aware option on the wing than the likes of Theo Walcott and Nathan Redmond, so could be brought on to help Southampton see out games when in a winning position.
The £14.4m-rated Arsenal man is still only young and has plenty of time to improve, whilst his status as an England international suggests that this could prove to be a bargain deal for the Saints.
He certainly impressed Martin Keown with his performance for Arsenal against Rapid Wien last season, as he said:
“He impressed me, it looks so easy for him at times and you can tell he’s got gears.
“You rarely get a player with his pace in that role. I would have loved that as a player. He’s a Rolls-Royce of a player at times.”
Therefore, it seems clear that Maitland-Niles would be an excellent addition to Hasenhuttl’s squad this summer, so Martin Semmens should definitely be looking to bring him to St Mary’s.
And, in other news… Huge Staplewood update emerges on £18.1m Southampton flop, Gao surely buzzing