Shifting Maitland-Niles and Bellerin, two of Arsenal’s favorite defenders, can’t be an easy choice.
And yet, it appears to be the choice that Mikel Arteta has made; reports suggest that Wolverhampton have wandered into talks for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, although they remain on going. Meanwhile, additional reports make clear that Hector Bellerin has been offered to PSG for their right-back needs.
Their moves suggest both a stylistic desire and esthetic, as well as capital motive; and while we can discuss the magnitude of the potential moves for all teams involved, it should also be considered that someone will have to play right-back at Arsenal this coming term.
And Just Who Might That be for Arsenal?
It is genuinely difficult at this time to say with even a modicum of certainty; while Kieran Tierney appears to have locked his left-back position up tightly, with David Luiz working with a combination of (hopefully) Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba.
The right side however, appears to be in flux and should both Bellerin and Maitland-Niles both be sold, it will have to be addressed through the market while the academy talent can progress.
One candidate to perhaps watch for is Kieran Trippier; he is said to be targeted by a few Premier League teams after his fine form with Atletico Madrid, and north London might make use of him yet. If Arteta has any others in mind, he is keeping tight lipped about it currently. But to be sure, this likely requires the sale of both players, and so we will analyze those potential moves.
Wandering to Wolves: Ainsley Maitland-Niles
As soon as it became clear that Maitland-Niles still wanted to move after the FA Cup victory, it became apparent that Arsenal were also interested. With that in the open, Wolves were the first to pounce for the player; his versatility alongside Adama Traore on the right side under Nuno Espirito Santo could be absolutely fierce.
Their versatility will be remarkable, and their athleticism fits the 3-5-2 dhape; Maitland-Niles has the vision and creativity to supercharge Wolves’ attack, even if it shouldn’t come too cheap.
While the initial bid has been rejected for the player, it is sure to come with at least a second or, potentially, a third bid. Unless another club hops in to hijack the venture, one can very easily see this move for Maitland-Niles; and while I am personally against selling him, he would land in a positive situation for himself.
Hector Bellerin to PSG? And the State of the Right-Back at Arsenal
This has caught me more off guard than the Maitland-Niles news; he is a long-standing servant, though still young, remarkably faithful and a resilient Gunner. He is also a perfect example of the diverse interests and talents of younger generations of athletes across the world.
If Hector Bellerin is to move to PSG, Arsenal should be getting a pretty sum for him in return; a healthy Hector Bellerin has the potential to be world class with the right cast around him. At PSG, it is hard to overstate the type of talent he will have at his disposal; the rewards for the Parisians could be great, regardless of their investment for him.
His skill and vision can likely unlock doors at Paris for the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and whomever else they can purchase to bolster those ranks. For Arsenal, on the other hand, the dearth of right-backs at the club will have to be resolved quickly should it be depleted for the sake of transfer funds.
Arsenal could look to raid teams making great changes like Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona or others; they will have to do something ultimately. For certainly, losing talent like Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin comes with great monetary return, but in the final analysis, someone will still have to play right-back for Arsenal this coming campaign; who will it be?