Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been backed to make a £20 million move to Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer by Arsenal legend Perry Groves, while speaking to talkSPORT (28 August, 11:00am).
After 17 years at the north London giants, an academy graduate turned first-team regular appears to be on the verge of bidding an emotional farewell to life at the Emirates.
Sky claimed this week that, while Wolves have seen an initial £15 million bid batted away, they are expected to make a new offer closer to Arsenal’s £20 million valuation sooner rather than later.
The versatile 22-year-old made 33 appearances in all competitions and shone as the Gunners lifted their 14th FA Cup earlier in August.
Maitland-Niles started in a left-wing back role against Chelsea at Wembley, having spent much of the 2019/20 season on the opposite flank.
Yet this most versatile of operators has made it clear on a number of occasions that he wants his future to be in the centre of midfield – a role that Mikel Arteta seems reluctant to hand him.
“Maitland-Niles sees himself as central midfield player, he’s not going to get in Arsenal’s team as a central midfield player,” said Groves, who won two First Division titles with the Gunners in 1989 and 1991.
“He’s going to play at left-wing back, he played really well up at Wolves (in that role, during a 3-0 win at Molineux).
“From Arsenal’s point of view, they need to get money in. There’s quite a lot of deadwood, Ozil, Mustafi, Elneny, Sokratis…
“If they can get money in from Maitland-Niles, that is decent business. He can give you cover (in midfield) and if he’s going to get more game time it could work out for both parties.”
Of course, forcing your way into Nuno’s engine room may be easier said than done.
In Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, Wolves already have two of the most gifted play-makers in English football, while Leander Dendoncker, Romain Saiss and ex-Lazio starlet Bruno Jordao are also highly-rated at Molineux.
Wolves opening fixtures of 2020/21 season
Sheffield United (A)
Manchester City (H)
West Ham (A)