A number of Arsenal fans have taken to Twitter to discuss Mikel Arteta’s comments – which have been reported by Football London – concerning Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ absence on Monday night.
Whether he has played or not, Maitland-Niles has been a mainstay of Arteta’s match day squads in recent times. In fact, heading into their clash with Newcastle, Maitland-Niles had been included in 12 consecutive squads in all competitions.
However, the 23-year-old was not involved against the Magpies. And following the game, Arteta confirmed that his omission was not down to injury or the youngster being unavailable.
“He needs to compete for his place like everybody else,” he said, as reported by Football London. “There’s been a lot of players who have been left out of the squad and had less minutes.
“Ainsley has played some minutes in the league, a lot of minutes in the Europa, the FA Cup, semi-finals and finals for us. It’s about him, his performances and how much he wants to be in the team.”
The comments seem to look ominous to many. It is not the first time Maitland-Niles has had to fight for his chance in the team.
It was reported by the Guardian in August that Wolves were close to signing him in a £20 million deal. The report claimed that a desire to start more games was pushing him closer to the exit.
Of course, a move would not take place. But some fear that doubts over his future may start up yet again with Arteta laying the challenge down to the versatile midfielder.
‘Clearly not in the plans’
Admittedly, plenty have defended Arteta’s decision and have backed his comments. They feel that Maitland-Niles – who earns £35,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – has not made the most of the opportunities that he has had.
But others have predicted that his days at the Emirates may be numbered. He has seemingly come close to leaving once in the last 12 months. And some believe that the situation may be bleak once again following Arteta’s comments.
Here is what some of the Arsenal fans made of what the manager had to say…
Sadly, I think he is too casual and hasn’t made the most of his opportunities. Maybe it is time for him to move on.
— Runjan Chetty (@RunjanChetty) January 18, 2021
I like this, he needs to prove himself
— Jhamo (@Jhamopappy) January 18, 2021
Fair enough. Same for Willock too
— Umzi (@UmziAFC) January 18, 2021
AMN career might be finito here lol
— YBM (@MATheGooner) January 18, 2021
He’s gone https://t.co/JlPJoNI2FQ
— 𝓩𝓿𝓴𝓿𝓻𝓲𝓪 (@AfcZakaria) January 18, 2021
Arteta is overtly challenging Ainsley to step up or get sold.
AMN is a few performances from salvaging his Arsenal career or ending it.
He’d better relish his game time or he is next on the chopping block—that much is clear. https://t.co/z287BK4bbt
— Mikel Arteta Amatriain 🎯 (@Uncouth_Sophist) January 18, 2021
AMN needs to rediscover that determination he found towards the end of last season and fa cup run. It would be great as it would add more competition for places and squad depth
— Protocal (@GGHop) January 18, 2021
Sad for AMN 🥺
— Abhinav Singh (@abhinavsing157) January 18, 2021
Amn needs to be sold now, clearly not in the plans https://t.co/D2aLdOKxYL
— . (@outsidesankaku) January 19, 2021
He will defo leave
— Alpha🇸🇱 (@AAFIFA07) January 19, 2021