Saints must swoop for £26m-rated "Rolls-Royce" who's been "rotting away" at a PL rival – opinion
Southampton were linked with a move for Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles during the winter transfer window and after it was reported that he will leave the Gunners this summer, the South Coast club should reignite their interest in him.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was desperate to sign a full-back during the winter transfer window and it seemed as if Maitland-Niles could be a viable option for the Austrian after a move for Manchester United defender Brandon Williams fell through.
However, after it was made clear that the 23-year-old would be required to play as a full-back rather than his preferred midfield position at Southampton, he was clearly not interested in the move and instead joined West Brom on loan for the rest of the season.
Maitland-Niles has spent the majority of his career at Arsenal, making 121 appearances, in which he has contributed three goals and seven assists but he clearly wasn’t happy with a lack of first-team opportunities under Mikel Arteta this season.
He also suggested in March that he felt he was “rotting away” on the bench at Arsenal so was desperate for a move away, so perhaps Southampton could provide him with a fresh start.
It was reported recently by The Telegraph that he will leave the North London club permanently this summer, with it suggested that Southampton, Wolves and Leicester City are likely to be interested.
However, he is still young, extremely versatile and a full England international, so he could prove to be a great addition to Hasenhuttl’s squad this summer.
As outlined by former Gunners defender, his stature in central midfield is rare, he told BT Sport (via football.london): “You rarely get a player with his pace in that role. I would have loved that as a player. He’s a Rolls-Royce of a player at times.”
Even if he sees his future in midfield, he could provide excellent cover for Kyle Walker-Peters at right-back or could be a more defensive winger option in the Saints’ 4-4-2 set up.
Therefore, Southampton chief Martin Semmens should reignite their previous interest in the 23-year-old this summer, as there seems no reason why he wouldn’t be a success with the South Coast club.
Source: Football – Football Fan Cast