Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles inspired his West Brom teammates with an impassioned speech one day before April’s 5-2 thrashing of Chelsea, as reported by The Athletic.
The England international had a lot of growing to do – both on and off the pitch – when he arrived at The Hawthorns in January.
And while Maitland-Niles will return to Arsenal with a relegation on his CV, a short-lived spell in the middle of a brutal survival dogfight may just be the making of this talented 23-year-old.
The Athletic claims that, as West Brom threatened to drop out of the Premier League with barely a whimper, Maitland-Niles seized the chance to make his voice heard as March rolled into April.
They report that Maitland-Niles played a key role in arranging a meeting with the rest of the West Brom squad before telling his teammates to get their act together and show some fight.
What followed, just 24 hours later, was perhaps the club’s finest top-flight performance of the modern era, battering Thomas Tuchel’s often fautless Chelsea side at their own Stamford Bridge home.
Maitland-Niles would then produce a brilliant individual display some nine days later, the driving force behind a 3-0 thumping of Southampton while playing the kind of box-to-box central midfield role he so obviously craves.
The Athletic reports that the West Brom squad were left shocked by the outspoken leadership style of a 23-year-old who had only arrived at the club a few weeks before.
Given that Arsenal are crying out for someone capable of leading not just by volume but also by example, perhaps a more mature Maitland-Niles does have a future under Arteta after all.