Wolves & Leicester target expects to leave Arsenal this summer

Ainsley Maitland-Niles in action for West Brom

Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles expects to leave the club this summer, according to The Telegraph.

What is the latest transfer news involving Maitland-Niles?

The 23-year-old appears to be viewed as a right-back by clubs at the top of the Premier League, but he wishes to prove his worth as a central midfielder.

With this in mind, he is set to leave the Emirates at the end of the season. 

Wolves had a £20m offer for the youngster rejected last summer, but are likely to be interested in securing his services again in the upcoming transfer window, whilst Leicester and Southampton could also come calling for Maitland-Niles.

How much is Maitland-Niles worth and when does his contract expire?

Transfermarkt values Maitland-Niles at £16.2m. 

Yet the fact that the Gunners turned down a £20m offer from Wolves less than a year ago suggests that they will want in excess of that number this time around as well.

The utility player is currently on loan at West Brom until the end of the season. Maitland-Niles will then return to Arsenal, where his contract runs until June 2023.

What are Maitland-Niles' stats this season?

Since arriving at West Brom in February, Maitland-Niles has been a regular starter in central midfield. In the first half of the season at Arsenal, he was restricted to operating down the flanks.

Switching to his favoured position has led to a slight upturn in form for Maitland-Niles. As per WhoScored, his average game rating in the league for Arsenal this year was 6.44, whilst this mark has gone up to 6.54 during his time at the Hawthorns.

He has also used his dribbling skills to good effect for Sam Allardyce's side. The midfielder has completed 1.6 successful dribbles per game in the Premier League - a higher average than any of his teammates.

That number would also rank him inside the top five at Wolves - above the side's regular central midfielders Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves.

What has Chris Sutton said about Maitland-Niles?

Last August, former Blackburn forward Chris Sutton urged Arsenal to keep hold of the five-cap England international, praising his adaptability.

Writing in his Daily Mail column, Sutton said: "He is such a versatile talent, a diamond, and I do believe Mikel Arteta trusts him. You don’t start against Liverpool here, or in the FA Cup semi-final and final against Manchester City and Chelsea, if that isn’t the case.

"If I was an Arsenal decision-maker, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get rid of Maitland-Niles, who still has three years on his contract. As his Wikipedia page states under playing position: ‘Midfielder, winger, full back, wing back.’ This young man’s versatility is a weapon, as is his pace and the way he reads the game."

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Who is this former Leicester player?

Wolves will need to change their stance on Maitland-Niles

Wolves wanted to bring Maitland-Niles over to Molineux last year, but reportedly targeted him to be used as a right-back.

However, the player himself has made it clear that he wants to play in the middle of the park. It seems unlikely that Wolves will get their man if they do not provide assurances that he will get opportunities to play in midfield, which could open the door for Leicester to make their move.

While it's less clear how Leicester view Maitland-Niles, the fact they've already got almost too many full-backs to choose from - Timothy Castagne, James Justin, Ricardo Pereira and youngster Luke Thomas - suggests Maitland-Niles won't be pigeonholed to the defensive flanks at the King Power Stadium.

Having demonstrated his dribbling ability in recent months, it appears that Maitland-Niles could offer Nuno Espirito Santo's side something different to the Portuguese pairing of Moutinho and Neves, which could help the team push on again next year after spending this term languishing in the bottom half.

Through his performances in 2021, Maitland-Niles may have done enough to convince Wolves' recruitment team that he can be a force in central midfield.

If this isn't the case, though, Wolves may risk missing out on the England international again, potentially to Leicester's benefit.

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