Southampton are reportedly closing in on the loan signing of Arsenal ace Ainsley Maitland-Niles and his signing could be a repeat of the transfer masterclass that saw Kyle Walker-Peters join the Saints.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Southampton are in talks with the Gunners over a deal for the 24-year-old, who was left out of their squad to face Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
The journalist suggests that any deal with Arsenal is likely to include an option to buy, which definitely suits Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side as it means he can be brought in permanently should he be a success at St Mary’s.
The Austrian manager is in desperate need of full-back reinforcements before the transfer window deadline next week, as Valentino Livramento is still sidelined with injury, which has forced Hasenhuttl into playing Moussa Djenepo at left wing-back in the early season fixtures.
Maitland-Niles can also provide important cover in the middle of the park, which will especially be needed if Oriol Romeu or Ibrahima Diallo complete a move away from St Mary’s, with both having been linked with departures in recent weeks.
Last season saw the versatile Englishman spend the second half of last season on loan at Roma, where he was limited to just eight league appearances in Jose Mourinho’s side.
He is clearly not part of Arteta’s plans at Arsenal but was praised by the Spaniard after a rare appearance in last season’s win against Watford.
Arteta said: “I’ve seen a different player in terms of his urgency, his commitment. We made a decision that was clear with what I was seeing because he was going to be useful. He has a huge talent and he is versatile to play in almost any position on the pitch.”
Should he make the move to Southampton, it could prove to be a repeat of the masterclass that saw Walker-Peters initially join on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, before making the move permanent in the summer of 2020.
The full-back has gone on to make 85 appearances for the Saints, contributing three goals and seven assists, showing strong enough form in Hasenhuttl’s side to earn a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad recently.
Possessing the ability to play at either left-back or right-back, his positional versatility mirrors that of Maitland-Niles, who has played in both roles during his time with the Gunners.
Walker-Peters has been so good in those positions that he’s been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, so there is no reason why Maitland-Niles’ career couldn’t follow a similar trajectory should he reignite his career with the Saints.
It’s evident it’s a place for top six outcasts to go and flourish so the £29k-per-week Arsenal man should definitely consider a move to the south coast.