Arsenal are reportedly close to selling Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Wolves. According to David Ornstein, the clubs are still working on a fee, although other outlets have it in the £20M range. Maitland-Niles and Wolves have also yet to agree to personal terms. But it looks like, out of nowhere, this move is a “when” not an “if” question.
Earlier this summer, Ornstein reported that Maitland-Niles had decided that he needed a move away from the Emirates to get regular first team minutes. I had hoped that his strong performances and important role in the big games to wrap up the season might have convinced the club and AMN to find some common ground, but alas, no such luck.
I don’t like the move, but if the player wants out, there’s not much Arsenal can do. The Gunners need a rebuild, and even though a 22-year old, homegrown player like Maitland-Niles would have been a nice piece, the club should be able to turn around and reinvest the funds he brings in to help reconstruct the roster.
Mikel Arteta has other targets for the window, and Arsenal were always going to have to sell to buy. If we’re being realistic, the guys most fans want sold aren’t likely to bring back much in the way of a return. AMN has value and will go for meaningful money. I just wish that money wasn’t coming from a club that was fighting for the same table positions as the Gunners last season; strengthening a competitor doesn’t feel good.
The flip side is that there is no room for sentimentality in running a football club. To be successful, you have to make tough decisions, and often, you have to be ruthless. If Mikel Arteta doesn’t see AMN playing an important role going forward, the best move is to capitalize on the value and bring in somebody the manager wants.
I’m slightly concerned about the right side of the defense. There are rumors swirling today linking Hector Bellerin and PSG, and I’m not sold on Cedric Soares. Having strong outside/wing backs is critical in today’s game. Arsenal could go from three right backs at the club to one in the blink of an eye, which is not the way to go into a congested season. We saw how being thin at left back worked out this year — if not for Bukayo Saka’s out-of-position breakthrough, the Gunners would have been in real trouble.
Although there haven’t been any rumors of incomings on the right, it seems like there’s more to come. That or the Bellerin leaving rumors are bunk.