Arsenal reportedly want £20m each for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah as they try to get funds together to help Mikel Arteta fix the first team squad.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is under contract with Arsenal until 2023 and valued at around £16.2m while Eddie Nketiah is contracted until 2022 and is valued at the same price. Quite why, then, the likes of the Daily Mail are so shocked that Arsenal want around £20m for two homegrown England talents is beyond me.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles went on loan to West Bromwich Albion at the end of the winter transfer window, after finding it hard to break into Mikel Arteta’s side regularly – particularly in the Premier League.
Maitland-Niles matched his tally of five Premier League starts with Arsenal this season after just over a month with West Brom, and he remains in the team playing 90 minutes every matchday.
But perhaps, more importantly than all of that, Sam Allardyce claims Maitland-Niles’ primary motivation for joining West Brom was to play in central midfield.
“I spoke to Ainsley on the fact, where do you want to play, and what is your favourite position?” Allardyce recalled. “The reason Ainsley chose West Brom is because he said: ‘I play in midfield, I want to play in midfield, I don’t want to play full-back.’
“It was a little bit surprising to me because he has played for Arsenal there a lot and England.
“I said: ‘If that is your favourite position, then I can’t 100% guarantee that is where you are going to play but certainly that is where you will start’.
“Then of course like everybody else, performances will determine whether you stay in that position or not. He was so focused on once I said you could play in that position, he chose us.”
As for Nketiah, West Ham United are said to be looking at a deal for the young forward this summer, encouraged by Arsenal’s contract extension for Folarin Balogun.
The Evening Standard reported that West Ham want to sign a new striker in the summer window, and Eddie Nketiah is one of the players on their shortlist along with Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri. David Moyes is a fan of the striker and believes he suits their style of play.
West Ham initially looked at signing Nketiah in January, but Arsenal weren’t open to offers at the time. The Hammers are hoping that stance will have changed as a result of Folarin Balogun’s new deal with the club.
At the start of the season, Nketiah was a pretty regular presence in Mikel Arteta’s Premier League team. He made three starts and nine substitute appearances in the league before Christmas despite having Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for competition.
But since Christmas, it’s been a different story. Nketiah played just 11 Premier League minutes across 17 matches, and he stopped making the squad altogether for an eight-game stretch at one stage.
He played 74 and 19 minutes in two recent Premier League games thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s illness and Alexandre Lacazette’s injury.
But, as soon as they were back to fitness, Nketiah was back to no minutes.