Ainsley Maitland-Niles has signed a new long-term contract to stay at Arsenal, the club announced on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old committed his future to the club this week, as well as announcing a shirt number change to 15. Although that’s only a small detail in the grand scheme of things, it’s just another hint that Unai Emery has big plans for the youngster.
Maitland-Niles seems to think so anyway, as he emphasised how confidence-inspiring it was to hear that the new head coach gave him a mention in his interviews for the job.
“You don’t really hear a lot of young players being shouted out by their managers, especially a new manager who hasn’t really seen them play too much,” he said. “I think it’s brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence.
“It feels fantastic knowing that I’m going to be a part of the squad, and a big part of the squad. It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down [with a new contract]. I’m very pleased.”
The youngster then revealed he’s already met with the new boss, who explained his expectations of Ainsley and the rest of the team.
“We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that,” Maitland-Niles explained. “It will be second nature to me.
“I think [the high-pressing game] suits me a lot, too. I’ve got a lot of pace to give to the team, pressing up high and winning the ball back as soon as possible is a major factor in football.”
When Emery gave his initial interviews to the press about his style of play, he emphasised it was about possession and pressing. Maitland-Niles already has tonnes of experience in the former regard, as he’s very confident on the ball. It’s hard not to develop that side of your game as an Arsenal youth product.
If the midfielder can add efficient and effective pressing to his game, he has a great chance of staying in the Arsenal first team long-term. Let’s hope this is the start of something special for him and the club.