Ainsley Maitland-Niles was benched by Jose Mourinho this weekend amid reports the Roma manager is not happy with the Arsenal man.

ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 20: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of AS Roma looks on during the warm up before the Coppa Italia match between AS Roma and US Lecce at Stadio Olimpico on January 20, 2022 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY – JANUARY 20: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of AS Roma looks on during the warm up before the Coppa Italia match between AS Roma and US Lecce at Stadio Olimpico on January 20, 2022 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles watched Roma’s 1-0 away win over Spezia Calcio from the bench, the first time the 24-year-old has not featured for Roma in the league since his loan move there in January.

Maitland-Niles started the first two Serie A games, playing the full 90, but has not done that since. He’s been subbed off twice, and was subbed on in the match before this one, getting just 14 minutes.

As reported last week, Roma are apparently not interested in buying Maitland-Niles when his loan spell comes to an end this summer as the player struggles to adapt.

ROME, ITALY: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of AS Roma battles for possession with Federico Chiesa of Juventus during the Serie A match between AS Roma v Juventus at Stadio Olimpico on January 09, 2022. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of AS Roma battles for possession with Federico Chiesa of Juventus during the Serie A match between AS Roma v Juventus at Stadio Olimpico on January 09, 2022. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

The utility player, who wants to be a midfielder, has been used in a variety positions since arriving in Italy, none of which have been his preferred one in the centre of the park.

Speaking to the media, Jose Mourinho admitted that the 24-year-old hasn’t quite found a way to fit in yet.

Asked about both Maitland-Niles and Sergio Oliveira, Mourinho said, “They haven’t impacted a lot.

“Maybe they haven’t settled in yet. They have a hard time grasping the type of football in Italy.

“English and Portuguese football is quite different.

“If you join a team that is not in good condition, it’s not easy to fit in.

They are players who have come to complete a staff. They aren’t ones who make the difference.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles on Instagram
Ainsley Maitland-Niles on Instagram

It is not surprising, then, that reports are starting to emerge that Roma do not want to buy Maitland-Niles permanently in the summer, leaving Arsenal with a problem to sort once again.

Roma, it is claimed, would prefer to sign Sergino Dest from Barcelona.

As far as we are aware, Maitland-Niles’ loan deal with the Serie A side does not include an option to buy, despite Roma initially wanting one.

Maitland-Niles will have one year left on his Arsenal contract when his loan ends and it is nearly impossible to see him agreeing to remain at the club after what happened last summer.

He wanted to leave, Premier League clubs wanted him, but Arsenal and, in particular, Mikel Arteta, promised him more minutes which simply never materialised.

In fact, he was featured even less.

Maitland-Niles played 472 minutes for Arsenal this season, started just four games (two in the league, two in the League Cup), and played the full 90 just three times.

He averaged around 43 minutes per appearance, of which he’s had 11.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal battles for possession with Juraj Kucka of Watford FC during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 07: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal battles for possession with Juraj Kucka of Watford FC during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Those aren’t great stats and are worse than the season before he was sent on loan to West Brom.

Maitland-Niles had played 16 times for Arsenal by then, totalling up nearly three times the minutes compared to this season (1,183).

He also played the full 90 eight times and averaged 74 minutes per appearance.

Arsenal were no doubt hoping that Maitland-Niles would impress in Rome, raising his value, but unless something dramatic happens in the final months of the season, he will come back to the club, approaching his peak years, still struggling to find a spot to call home.

He is currently valued at around £10.8m.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.