According to Fabrizio Romano, the 25-year-old has joined Southampton on a year-long loan with an option to buy.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles Joins Southampton on a Season-long Loan
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) September 1, 2022
An Underwhelming Loan Spell at AS Roma
Earlier this year, Arsenal allowed Maitland-Niles to leave the club on loan and join Jose Mourinho in Italy at Roma.
This was meant to be the player’s chance to prove to the world that he had what it takes to be a top-level midfielder. But, it didn’t turn out that way.
Joining the club in January, he made eight appearances in the Serie A, which is just below half of the remaining games.
His frustrating spell in Italy was epitomised by the player him being an unused substitute in the club’s infamous 1-0 victory of Feyenoord in the Uefa Conference League final.
It is hard to classify this loan move as anything but a disappointment.
A Struggle for Game Time at Arsenal
And that was a shame for the midfielder because ever since Mikel Arteta joined the North London club, Maitland-Niles has found game time hard to come by.
In fact, since the start of the 2020/21 season, the Englishman has made just 19 Premier League appearances for the London club.
Ex-Arsenal star Ashley Cole said that Maitland-Niles was “too versatile for his own good”, filling in wherever needed meaning he was never able to lock down a consistent position in the starting eleven.
🗣 “He was too versatile for his own good.”
Ashley Cole speaks about Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ decision to leave Arsenal on loan to play central midfield pic.twitter.com/WOVOPRu6zc
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 4, 2021
He does not seem to be part of Arteta’s plans, and therefore, this is a move that suits both parties.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is far too talented to be wasting away in the shadows at Arsenal, and regular first-team football is exactly what he needs.
What Will He Bring to Southampton?
As mentioned, despite a frustrating couple of years for the player, Maitland-Niles is unquestionably a talented player.
First and foremost, he brings versatility. This is perhaps his biggest asset. During his time at Arsenal, he has been deployed in central-midfield, at right-back and left-back and as a right wing-back showing that he can operate effectively in each and every one.
Given that Ralph Hasenhuttl likes to be flexible and adapt to the opponent, Maitland-Niles’ versatility is sure to come in handy in one way or another.
The 25-year-old is also an incredibly physical player. As a matter of fact, one of his games in an Arsenal shirt came against their rivals Manchester United, in which he dominated a midfield consisting of both Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. That is no easy feat.
Southampton showed in their recent 2-1 victory over Chelsea that they are not afraid to physically impose themselves in a match. Thi is especially against stronger opposition when they don’t see as much of the ball, and the addition of Maitland-Niles can only be of benefit in that regard.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles may not be fancied by Mikel Arteta, but he is still an incredibly talented and versatile player. If Hasenhuttl can unlock his true potential, Southampton have themselves a very good player. Especially given that they have an option-to-buy clause if the move goes well.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has completed his loan move to Roma until the end of the season. pic.twitter.com/v9dtKJsksC
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 8, 2022