Newcastle United could turn their attentions to signing Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles after Mario Lemina elected to join Nice from Southampton, per the Daily Mail.
Lemina flew to France on Thursday to complete a £4.7m move to the Ligue 1 side after four years on the books at St Marys. Newcastle chiefs were hopeful of convincing the Gabonese of life on Tyneside instead, but Nice were more persuasive.
Christophe Galtier and Nice chiefs were able to make Lemina believe in their project more than Newcastle could. He should sign a three-year contract with the Allianz Riviera side, who finished ninth last season, their joint-lowest since 2015.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is still keen to sign a new midfielder and could target Maitland-Niles after Lemina’s snub. The Gunners engine is also wanted by Southampton and Burnley, among others, however. One of which being Crystal Palace, according to football.london.
Arsenal are also willing to offer Maitland-Niles to Leicester in the hopes of signing James Maddison, per the Daily Mail. While the Mirror claim Watford want the £35,000-per-week midfielder who West Brom loaned for the second half of last season.
The 23-year-old made 15 outings for Albion, mostly in the heart of Sam Allardyce’s engine room. He also featured on the wings as the campaign neared its end, and has often played at full-back for Arsenal.
Maitland-Niles has particularly struggled to hold down a set position under Mikel Arteta. The five-cap England international played 21 times for the Spaniard last term before joining West Brom. Yet he only featured, at most, five times in one of his five different roles.
Newcastle wanted Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal in January
Bruce turning to Maitland-Niles after Lemina’s snub would see the Newcastle boss revert to his plans from the winter. The Daily Mail noted ahead of Deadline Day that the Toon wanted the Arsenal product before signing Joe Willock.
But Newcastle could have to pay £20m for Maitland-Niles now, per The Sun. Mikel Arteta’s side are open to the midfielder sealing a permanent exit, after his successful spell at West Brom. He also impressed in his rare Gunners outings before moving to The Hawthorns.
While Stuart Pearce hailed Maitland-Niles while he was on England duty in September. The West Ham coach told talkSPORT (14/09; 09:12): “He’s been outstanding”. Adding: “I saw him last season [2019/20] against Wolves and he was up against the big lad Adama Traore. He was brilliant and coped really well up against him.” Aspects Bruce may hope he repeats.