Sam Allardyce has advised Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play wherever the manager picks him, rather than insisting he stays in midfield.

West Bromwich Albion's Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Southampton's Jan Bednarek (left) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. Picture date: Monday, April 12, 2021. Copyright: Michael Steele
West Bromwich Albion’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Southampton’s Jan Bednarek (left) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. Picture date: Monday, April 12, 2021. Copyright: Michael Steele

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has spent the last few months on loan with West Bromwich Albion, where he’s played regular Premier League football in midfield – just as he wanted.

Sam Allardyce has previously confirmed that one of the reasons West Brom were able to win the race to loan Maitland-Niles in the first place was that they were offering him the chance to at least start his spell in midfield.

After that, it was up to the 23-year-old to keep his place, which he did until last weekend, when he was named on the bench against Liverpool.

But despite giving Maitland-Niles the chance to play in the middle, Allardyce advised the Arsenal loanee not to limit himself to one position.

“Arsenal have got many talented midfield players,” Allardyce said. “I can see why it’s been difficult for him. It’s very competitive in there. That’s why he’s been played more as a full-back.

“If I were him, I’d play wherever the manager picked me – and I’d never turn it down because if you are able to play in a number of positions, then you are going to get more games than if you had one position and one position only.

“Perhaps you don’t want to be tagged as a ‘utility player’ but sometimes those people are played more often than those who are stubborn and say: ‘I want to play in that position and nowhere else.’”

This is likely to go down well with Arsenal, who have tried to move Maitland-Niles into a wing-back role under multiple managers. But the player continues to insist he belongs in the middle, and you feel he may be tempted by anyone who offers him that chance.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.