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Why keep Ainsley Maitland-Niles at this point?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles looked to be one for the long-term, but things have changed so drastically that there’s no point in Arsenal keeping him now.

No one has seen Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the Premier League since January 18th. This young man who, in the burgeoning stages of his career, looked to be one of Arsenal‘s most talented young players. But ever since Mikel Arteta came in, Maitland-Niles might as well not have existed.

There had been lingering concerns for a while that his continued use as a rightback and right wingback would eventually disenchant him. He wanted to be a central midfielder and he was never given the chance to be that. Even when it seemed perfectly reasonable to give him that chance. And for a manager that has already laid disciplinary measures on Matteo Guendouzi, one has to wonder if Maitland-Niles isn’t getting much of the same.

Some would argue that it’s not time to sell him, however. That he still has talent, can fill in at rightback, has his value to the club. I wouldn’t argue that. I would just argue that we’ve come so far in this journey that we’re at the point where we should just cut the chord.

Should Arsenal bother with Ainsley Maitland-Niles?

Maitland-Niles can fetch a nice price in the transfer market. You have to think around £25m, if not more. He doesn’t have a future at Arsenal at rightback because he doesn’t want a future at rightback. I think he made that perfectly clear.

But Arteta doesn’t want to give him a future at midfield either, so why not cash in, take that money, and use it on someone who does have a future at midfield?

It’s ruthless, sure, but it’s also practical. The only reason we have of keeping him is that he’s talented and we can continue forcing him to play a position he doesn’t want to play. That won’t last long. Disenchantment will deteriorate his willingness to play and then when we do finally sell him, his value will have been destroyed to the point where we’ll be lucky to get £10m.

Sell him now. Take the check. Turn it into something more immediately valuable. It’s not a hard concept and honestly, for Arteta, it seems highly practical and probable.

Next: 3 Improvements Pepe Must Make

It’s a bummer, because he does look like a talented young man, but he needs to go somewhere that’s going to give him what he wants, otherwise we’re all just wasting time.

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