Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ Arsenal future is set to be a hot topic this summer.
Just like it was a year ago when the versatile midfielder was heavily linked with a move to Wolves in a bid to secure regular first-team football ahead of the 2020/21 season.
At the time, Sky Sports revealed that there had been positive talks between the two clubs over a permanent deal for the Gunners’ academy graduate, and a transfer was on course to be finalised in late August.
In addition, various reports stated that the north London outfit could receive a fee of £20million for the utility player.
However, the decision was made to keep Maitland-Niles at the club and he was in and out of Mikel Arteta’s plans during the first half of the season before joining West Brom on loan in the January transfer window.
And the Gunners could end up regretting that u-turn.
The 23-year-old has hinted at leaving the Emirates Stadium this summer, calling on Arteta and technical director Edu to clarify their plans for him before pre-season training starts next month.
“If I was to get a phone call from someone at Arsenal and they said they’d like a meeting tomorrow, then it would be easier that way,” he said in an interview with the Telegraph. “They can tell me whether they’ve got plans to play me in the future or if they want to sell me.
“Where they [Arsenal] see me. If it works out it works out, if it doesn’t then kiss Arsenal goodbye.
“It’s been a long journey but a proud one at that.”
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Whilst the Gunners were in line to receive £20m for Maitland-Niles last summer, they may not get anywhere near that fee less than a year later should they decide to cash in.
As per the CIES Football Observatory, he has an estimated transfer value of between €7m-€10m (£6m-£8m) which means Arsenal could miss out on just over £10m.
And with Maitland-Niles’ contract expiring in 2023, the north London outfit don’t find themselves in a strong negotiating position, so Edu will have to pull out all the stops to command a higher fee.