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Stuart Pearce raves about Arsenal utility man Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Former England favourite Stuart Pearce has heaped praise on Arsenal utility man Ainsley Maitland-Niles during an interview with Talksport (14/09; 09:12).

Maitland-Niles started for England against Denmark last night but Pearce was surprised he didn’t get the nod ahead of Arsenal teammate Bukayo Saka for the game against Wales last week.

The 23-year-old has played largely on the left-hand side as a wing-back this season and under Mikel Arteta in general.

(Photo; Stuart MacFarlane; Arsenal FC; Getty Images)

He has also been utilised on the right and on certain occasions in midfield too, with Pearce praising the player.

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Saka is the player who has got people excited and with 11 assists last season it’s easy to see why.

Pearce has suggested that Maitland-Niles deserves some credit to though, believing he should have started ahead of Saka last week.

He told Talksport (14/09; 09:12): “I think he’s been outstanding. I was surprised he didn’t get the nod to start before Saka last Thursday (against Wales). That was strange, for me.

“Saka hasn’t done anything wrong but I’m a big fan of Maitland-Niles.

“I saw him last season against Wolves and he was up against the big lad Adama Traore. He was brilliant and coped really well up against him.

“For me, he’ll be integral to any success Arsenal have this season.”

The form of Maitland-Niles does represent a remarkable u-turn for the youngster.

(Photo; Dan Istitene; Getty Images)

Earlier in the summer, it was thought that the academy graduate would be ending his association with Arsenal by signing for the Gunners.

Progress

Reports claimed a £20 million deal was nearing completion, although for whatever reason it never came to fruition.

The £35,000-a-week player is important to the Gunners and his versatility is a useful asset.

Maitland-Niles now has three caps for England and on current form, you wouldn’t bet on him earning a few more this season.

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