Roma have completed the signing of Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal on a loan deal to the end of the season.
The 24-year-old has featured just eight times for the Gunners this season. Since Mikel Arteta’s appointment, he’s fallen out of favour at the Emirates. His last appearance came against Liverpool at the end of November in a 4-0 defeat. It would be a welcome move for all parties.
The midfielder will now hope to reinvigorate his stalling career in Rome under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.
The former Spurs manager has made no secret of his admiration for the player and has been talking to Maitland-Niles for several weeks.
Indeed, it ultimately came down to Tammy Abraham, with the former Chelsea striker helping convince him to make the move.
“He grew up at Arsenal when I was at Chelsea and Tottenham, so I know him well,” Mourinho said of Maitland-Niles.
He joins on a loan until the end of the season. The deal does not contain an option to buy.
However, with just a year left on his deal, Maitland-Niles is effectively moving to Italy in order to kickstart his career.
The timing of the deal may raise a few eyebrows from an Arsenal perspective. They are already without Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey in midfield due to the African Cup of Nations.
Arteta understands player’s exit wish
Now, the departure of Maitland-Niles will deprive them of another option. But Arteta understood why the 24-year-old wanted to move on. Therefore, he gave the green light to the transfer.
He said at a press conference: “Ainsley came to me and explained the reasons why he thought the best thing for him in his career right now was to move away. He felt the opportunity to go to Rome and work with Jose [Mourinho] was a good one.
“Being fair with the amount of minutes that he’s played he was entitled to that opportunity. We wish him the best.”
Arsenal will now have just Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga as senior options in midfield until their African duo return.
Hence, Arteta is hoping they can find reinforcements – but said he couldn’t use their lack of depth as an excuse to keep an unsettled player in Maitland-Niles.
Maitland-Niles out, ‘Little Jorginho’ in
Arsenal are reportedly preparing an offer for Samuele Ricci amid claims they have a growing admiration for the Empoli midfielder.
The cultured midfielder – just 20 – has been a regular in the Empoli side this season, making 18 appearances in Serie A. Indeed, with Empoli sitting comfortable in mid-table, it’s little surprise to see a number of admirers come forward for Ricci.
Now, as per Gazzetta Dello Sport, via Sport Witness, Ricci is a player ‘well liked’ at Emirates Stadium.
Standing 6ft 2in, Arteta reportedly believes Ricci has the qualities to shine in the Premier League. Indeed, the Gunners reportedly first made contact for the player all the way back in April last year.
Now they are reportedly looking to push forward that initial interest amid claims Edu is currently working on a transfer.
Renato Sanches and Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly on Arsenal’s radar.