‘It has come to an end’ - Ainsley Maitland-Niles confirms Arsenal exit as a free agent
- Product of Gunners' academy system
- Contract running down
- Currently on loan at Southampton
WHAT HAPPENED? The England international, who is a product of the Gunners’ famed academy system, has spent the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Southampton – having taken in similar spells at West Brom and Roma in recent times. He has made 132 appearances for parent club Arsenal, while earning five senior caps for his country, but feels the time has come to commit himself fully to a challenge outside of north London as he prepares to hit free agency.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Maitland-Niles has told The Athletic: “It’s been a great journey but it has come to an end now [at Arsenal]. It’s time for a fresh start and to find a new home. I’m looking forward to that but, at the same time, my head’s not quite there yet and it’s all about what’s happening now with Southampton. I’m just fully focused on trying to help us stay up and stay positive on a day-to-day basis and win games. When the time gets closer towards the end of the season, I’ll have something else to think about. But right now, I’m just focused on football and the task at hand. Southampton is a great club to be at and progress and get some minutes under my belt. Of course, if they were to make an offer, I’ll be more than happy to stay.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Maitland-Niles will see his contract with Arsenal expire at the end of the season, freeing him to mull over several options when it comes to a next port of call.
IN TWO PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Southampton will hope that there is a permanent deal to be done by them, but the Saints are currently stuck at the foot of the Premier League table and have just six games left this season in which to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.