The Baggies gave their albeit slim survival chances a much-needed boost on Monday night as they beat Southampton 3-0 at The Hawthorns thanks to goals from Matheus Pereira, Matt Phillips and Callum Robinson.
Maitland-Niles, valued at £16.2m on Transfermarkt, whilst having predominantly spent his career as a right-sided player either on the wing or at right-back, played in central midfield against the Saints, and even though he didn’t manage to help out with either a goal or an assist, speaking on the Baggies Broadcast podcast, Hatfield was incredibly impressed with the loanee’s performance, saying it was one of the better games he’s ever seen from him:
“I really wanted him to get a goal or an assist because there was no tangible stat to just show exactly how well he did.
“Genuinely, by far the best performance we’ve seen from him in a Baggies shirt and probably the best performance I’ve seen from him ever. I mean, I’m not gonna say I watched him week in week out Arsenal, but there were some times I watched him, I thought ‘he’s okay’, but I mean, he flourished in that role.”
Should West Brom stick with Allardyce if they get relegated?
TIF Thoughts on Luke Hatfield’s comments about Ainsley Maitland-Niles…
High praise from Hatfield indeed, and certainly something Maitland-Niles might be able to build on going forward, because he is essentially playing for his future at Arsenal when he returns in the summer. That extra motivation to try and prove himself can really offer West Brom something for the remainder of this season.
And the fact that he managed to do it in his preferred position will give them the added flexibility if they need to tweak things between now and the end of the season – as well as perhaps improve his prospects at either breaking into the Arsenal first team or sealing a move elsewhere.