Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on the sidelines for most Arsenal games at the moment, and David Ornstein has heard suggestions as to why.
You don’t need Ornstein to tell you Maitland-Niles is struggling to get onto the pitch for Arsenal recently, with centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos taking his place as the team’s backup right-back for now.
Since dropping out of the team after a match against Sheffield United, Maitland-Niles has played three minutes of football. One against Bournemouth, one against Portsmouth and one against Olympiacos.
With Cedric Soares making a comeback, it doesn’t look like that situation will improve.
David Ornstein spoke to The Ornstein and Chapman Podcast this week, having heard suggestions over the reason why.
Ornstein’s view on the Maitland-Niles situation
“I heard some suggestions, a long time ago now, that [Maitland-Niles] had expressed a desire or a preference not to be playing at right-back, and that he favours a central midfield position,” Ornstein said on The Athletic podcast.
“Mikel Arteta isn’t particularly receptive to players indicating where they want to play. They will play where they’re told to play, and for the good of the team.
“Since then, I don’t know the exact conversations that have gone on, but he hasn’t been playing very much.
“One other suggestion I got was that he has been late for a couple of training sessions. Certainly, Arteta would not like that, given the discipline and behaviour and respect and culture that’s so important to him.
“Some people around Arsenal feel that it could be done for Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. We don’t know for a fact. I’m just reflecting suggestions I’ve heard.”
What’s the solution?
If Maitland-Niles wants to get back in the team, the solution is probably simply to turn up on time every day and work hard to get whatever spot he can. Not to ask to play in a certain position, but to prove his worth on the training pitches.
Alternatively, if he doesn’t want to get back in, it seems likely he’ll leave this summer. Arsenal have a large squad that needs trimming anyway, they can’t afford to hold onto players not getting games.
It would certainly be a shame to lose an academy graduate like that, so we hope he gets back in Arteta’s good books.