Ainsley Maitland-Niles has admitted that Mikel Arteta was demanding more from him than he was demanding from himself ahead of a summer which saw the Arsenal youngster linked with the Emirates exit, in comments reported by Sky Sports.
The 23-year-old appeared to have a question mark hanging over his future with the Gunners after making just one league start following last season’s restart.
As noted by Sky Sports, he attracted attention from Wolves. It was claimed by the Daily Mirror in August that Arsenal were open to selling Maitland-Niles. It was suggested that Arteta wanted to keep him. But the club were also wary of how they were going to fund their summer plans.
However, Maitland-Niles ultimately stayed. And he has gone on to feature in three of Arsenal’s opening five Premier League games, including two starts.
And the academy graduate has now shed light on exactly why he was struggling to get into Arteta’s plans earlier in the year.
“There was a lot of speculation going around but ultimately I chose to stay at the club, which I love, and I’m happy with my decision and I’m sure the manager is happy that I stayed,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“It was never a rocky relationship between us,” he added, when discussing Arteta. “He was just demanding more from me than I was demanding from myself and he told me I had work to do to get back into the team.
“He instilled a lot of confidence in me, that I had in myself but maybe I didn’t know how to bring out and he’s helped me do that.”
TBR View: Summer could prove a turning point for Maitland-Niles
The summer may be looked back upon as a crucial point in Maitland-Niles’s career. Arteta’s reluctance to start him may have really tested him – particularly with a club like Wolves registering interest.
But Maitland-Niles – who earns £35,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – has proved that he is prepared to fight for his spot at the Emirates. And he now looks to be back on his way towards becoming a key player for the Gunners in the coming years.
It looked to be a gamble for Arteta to reportedly open the door for Maitland-Niles to leave. But just a few months down the line, it looks as though the Arsenal boss’ roll of the dice has paid off.