• Transfer news

Arteta explains his decision to allow Arsenal duo to leave

Getty Images

The young Arsenal duo sealed loan exits to other Premier League clubs during the winter transfer window.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has explained his decision to allow Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to leave on loan until the summer, which is when a decision will be made on their long-term futures.

Willock, who has made just two starts in his seven league appearances this season, has joined Newcastle United. The 21-year-old heads to St James’ Park hoping to gain regular game time in the Premier League.

Arteta revealed that Arsenal’s early FA Cup and EFL Cup exits prompted the move in order to not hinder the midfielder’s development.

“He has played to a big level, but now we have fewer competitions and I thought that he would have less time and that probably the best thing to do would be to give him 14, 15, 16 games in the Premier League,” said Arteta as quoted by Football London.

“To have 30-32 games in one season for his age and with what he has done in the past few years would be a really positive thing.

“We found the right club manager and coaching staff. So hopefully it will be a successful period for him.”

Maitland-Niles, on the other hand, has joined Premier League strugglers West Brom on loan. The versatile 23-year-old has featured more regularly than Willock, but he is keen for regular starting opportunities to boost his hopes of making England’s European Championship squad in the summer.

“Ainsley is a different phase of his development [to Willock] and is an England international,” said Arteta.

“He has played more games, and he wanted to start games and he wanted that guarantee and, in my position, it was really different to do that.

“He was willing to experience something else, and I decided to allow him to do that. He can play in different positions and might have the possibility to play in midfield which for him is important.

“When a player’s main will is not financial and it is to just to play football, then it is really difficult to stand in his way when you don’t feel that he will start many games.”