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Ex-Arsenal star weighs in on Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ future

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Arsenal
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The Gunners youngster’s future remains in doubt following a lack of regular opportunities this season at the Emirates.

Kevin Campbell sympathizes with Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ struggles for regular game time, but he expects Mikel Arteta to pull out all the stops to tie down his future.

An exit appeared a possibility over the summer as Maitland-Niles became a fringe player under the Arsenal manager. He made most of his appearances off the bench towards the end of last season, inviting reported interest from Wolves and Manchester United.

Nothing materialized in the end, though, with the 23-year-old still a Gunner to this day.

But Maitland-Niles’ market value has grown this season after making his England debut in September. He’s since won a further two caps for the Three Lions and hopes to compete in next summer’s European championship.

And while Arteta bagged himself a potential star in the making in Thomas Partey over the summer, keeping a home-grown talent in Maitland-Niles is a top priority.

“I hear Mikel Arteta is trying to convince him to stay and sign a new contract because he is now an England international,” former Gunners striker Campbell told Football Insider.

“Which clubs let England internationals go? You do not do that.

“He wants to play, of course he wants to but we know football is a squad game. He wants to play in central midfield and they have just bought Partey to play there.

“Maitland-Niles is a good player but he is no Partey, that is for sure.

“He has a great engine on him, tough and can take a penalty because he is calm as a cucumber. He has loads of pluses going for him.

“He can fit in multiple positions and every team needs a utility man, and when your utility man is an international you need to keep him even more so.

“I can see Mikel Arteta going on the charm offensive to try and keep him at the football club.”

Maitland-Niles has made 12 appearances in all competitions this season, with five of them coming in the Premier League.