Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth discussed all of the latest news concerning Arsenal academy product Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the latest edition of Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement and he spent some time talking about the possibility of the 23-year-old joining the Gunners’ Premier League rivals Southampton during the show.
Maitland-Niles has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this month, with the Saints, as well as fellow Premier League sides Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion, all said to be keen on bringing in the £16.2m-rated man.
After suggesting that Maitland-Niles’ potential Arsenal departure this month would be a loan deal for the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign due to uncertainty over how much game time he will get at the Emirates for the rest of this season, Sheth went on to indicate that the north London club would prefer to send the England international to Southampton.
The journalist said: “He’s one of a number of players that Arsenal are looking at and thinking, ‘Right, they’re not going to play for the rest of this season, we need to see whether they are going to be best served developing for the rest of this season elsewhere or whether we keep them at Arsenal.’
“From what we’ve heard, Arsenal, if they are to let Ainsley Maitland-Niles go, Southampton would be a preferred destination, probably because of the style of play.”
Will Southampton sign Maitland-Niles?
TIF Thoughts on what Sheth said about Southampton and Maitland-Niles…
With Sheth indicating that Southampton’s playing style could give them the edge over other teams in securing Maitland-Niles’ signature, perhaps the fact that, per WhoScored, playing short passes and attacking down the left are notable elements of both teams’ games could hand the Saints a boost in the hunt for the Arsenal man.
It’s been claimed that Southampton will view any signing as a full-back, and Maitland-Niles has primarily played at right-back during his time as a member of the Gunners’ first team, while he’s also played plenty of games at left-back, so if Arsenal feel that his future lies mainly in the full-back positions, then maybe that could also give Southampton the edge with regard to signing the 23-year-old on loan.
Meanwhile, The Athletic also believes that the Saints are leading the race for his signature.
As Sheth indicated, it does seem like Southampton have a lot going for them with regard to getting this deal over the line ahead of other sides and it will be interesting to see if they manage to do so before the window shuts at 11pm.