New Arsenal boss Unai Emery doesn’t have much money to play with this summer. After just over two decades of Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery has the job of getting Arsenal back to prominence. Although the club has made three signings already this summer, Emery will have limited funds to play with. There’s one player already at the club, however, who could become incredibly important for Emery, Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
In Arsene Wenger’s last season at the club, Ainsley Maitland-Niles broke into the first-team and played 28 games for the club last season. A versatile player, Maitland-Niles can play at fullback, central midfield and even on the wing. While some might argue that this sounds a bit like a ‘Jack of all trades, a master of none’, Maitland-Niles’ versatility could be crucial in Emery’s new look Arsenal team.
At only 20-years-old, Maitland-Niles already has a good amount of experience playing first-team football. The youngster spent a loan spell at Ipswich two seasons ago where he managed to play 30 games for Mick McCarthy. With Arsenal lacking some depth in central midfield, Maitland-Niles could well find himself increasing his game time.
Blessed with pace, Maitland-Niles has a very well-rounded game. He has the ability to play a pass but also do a defensive role too. Although both these aspects of his game still need to be polished, the potential for Maitland-Niles to be a box-to-box player is there.
With Emery, Arsenal will likely play a 4-2-3-1 and with the immobile Xhaka at the base, the Gunners need to have someone mobile who possess some technical ability to partner him. Maitland-Niles has the ability to do both and also has the ability to burst forward.
If Maitland-Niles has a solid pre-season, the youngster could well see himself starting a lot of games next season.