Recent reports have suggested that Southampton are interested in taking Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan, whilst the Gunners are also seemingly keen on signing Ryan Bertrand as a backup left-back.
The Daily Mail have claimed that any Saints deal for the 23-year-old Arsenal man could see Bertrand head in the opposite direction and therefore, it would be a mistake for Southampton Vice Chairman Martin Semmens to sanction such a transfer.
Southampton’s interest in Maitland-Niles is surely due to their lack of cover in the full-back positions, that has become increasingly evident with recent fixtures.
Jake Vokins and Yan Valery both struggled there against Arsenal recently, with Vokins subsequently sent on loan to League One side Sunderland.
Valery, meanwhile, was replaced by James Ward-Prowse at full-back against Aston Villa on Saturday evening, and even when Ralph Hasenhuttl saw three players go off injured, he still didn’t introduce the Frenchman, with Moussa Djenepo instead moving to right-back.
This perhaps sums up the Austrian’s feelings on Valery at the moment, so it is clear that he is keen to sign someone who can provide cover for first-choice full-backs Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters.
Despite featuring in both positions for Arsenal in recent seasons, Maitland-Niles might not be the solution for Hasenhuttl, as it is clear that he sees himself as a midfielder rather than a defender.
Although Bertrand’s contract with Southampton is set to expire at the end of the season, they are reportedly confident he will commit to a new deal, so they should not be bullied into making a mistake by the Gunners.
Swapping the club’s only left-back for someone who clearly doesn’t want to play in defence would likely prove to be a mistake by Semmens, as it would leave Hasenhuttl desperately short of defensive options for the rest of the season.
Therefore, if the only way to bring Maitland-Niles in before the deadline is to send Bertrand in the opposite direction, then the Saints should forget about the Arsenal man and look elsewhere for defensive cover.
And, in other news… Southampton should swoop for £6.3m PL beast instead of Maitland-Niles