Ainsley Maitland-Niles is attracting interest from Nottingham Forest over a permanent transfer football.london understands.
The newly-promoted Premier League club made an enquiry to Arsenal about the 24-year-old earlier this week, but it is thought that the deal is still in its early stages. Forest, who play with a back three, are thought to be exploring their options in the transfer market as it appears increasingly unlikely that they will be able to sign Djed Spence permanently from Middlesbrough amid interest from a host of teams, including Tottenham.
For his part, Maitland-Niles has repeatedly expressed a desire to play regular first-team football at this stage in his career and has admitted that he would be willing to leave Arsenal in order to make that happen. He attracted interest from Everton late in the transfer window last summer but ended up staying after talks with Mikel Arteta. After only obtaining limited game time in the first part of the campaign, though he was allowed to join Roma in January, but then only ended up making 12 appearances for Jose Mourinho‘s side.
The Hale Ender has just one year remaining on his contract at the Emirates, and with this in mind, Arsenal are open to a sale. Forest have a lot to do in this transfer window as they prepare for their first Premier League season in 23 years. Their budgetary limitations combined with Maitland-Niles’ high salary with the Gunners could make a deal difficult.
Manager Steve Cooper is thought to be a huge fan of Maitland-Niles after becoming aware of him during his time coaching at youth level for England. Maitland-Niles was part of the under-20 side that won the World Cup in 2017, while Cooper coached the under-17s to World Cup glory in the same year.
Should Maitland-Niles leave, then it could be the first of several midfield exits at Arsenal this summer. Matteo Guendouzi will make his loan move to Marseille permanent, while Lucas Torreira is likely to leave despite disruption to his loan spell at Fiorentina being made permanent.
The Gunners are keen to bring in a midfielder this summer, and football.london understands that they are targetting Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans. The 25-year-old scored for Belgium during their 1-1 draw with Wales in the Nations League on Saturday night and has admitted that he will make a decision on his future after their final match of the international break against Poland on Tuesday.
“For a player, the most important thing is to play,” Tielemans said. “It’ll be up to me to make the right decision regarding my future this summer, but now, I’m relaxed and focusing on the Red Devils.”