Ainsley Maitland-Niles held an interview this week where he spoke about how he ended up at Arsenal and the love he has for the club.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Maitland-Niles revealed how he first got into Arsenal, admitting it was his dad’s love for the club that got him invested.
“I think it’s more of my dad, to be honest,” Maitland-Niles said. “Since I was born he’s just loved Arsenal. He’s always bought me football kits since growing up as a baby. I had a few Dreamcast kits and that’s going back a long way. It was in the heart from a young age.”
Although his dad might have been the main reason he followed Arsenal at first, Ainsley explained to Sky Sports that he has his own relationship with the club now. Ever since joining as a six-year-old, his affection for the Gunners has only grown stronger, and it continues to do so.
“I’ve had love for the club since I’ve been here,” the 21-year-old said. “I’ll always have love for it but it’s getting stronger every day. It started a long time ago playing for Lakeview. It was pretty strange to get a call at such a young age and for someone to tell you a fantastic club like Arsenal had been watching you and monitoring your progress.
“I can’t remember the team we were playing against at the time but I think my dad came up to me afterwards and he said that there was a scout that was talking to him. From that conversation, my face lit up as soon as I heard Arsenal because that was my boyhood club.”
Maitland-Niles has slowly worked his way up the ranks to the Arsenal first team, via a loan spell with Ipswich Town, but now he’s an established part of the senior squad. His versatility allows him to fill in at a number of positions, from left-back at the start of the campaign, to right-back, right midfield and even right forward recently.
The academy graduate nonetheless still describes himself as a central midfielder, but it’s a lot harder to get into the Arsenal team in that position right now. Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka are competing for two spots, with Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey ready to fill in, and Joe Willock also coming up from the academy.
We’ll have to wait and see where he ends up, but it’s clear he just wants to do well for Arsenal.