Manchester United are reportedly planning a shock swoop for Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles this summer and have plans to alter his position.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been tipped to bring in some big-name recruits this summer to build on a solid season. But he also wants to provide competition for some of his established stars and give himself extra options. One such position is right-back, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka firmly entrenched as the club’s starter.
The former Crystal Palace man has made 67 top-flight appearances since moving to Old Trafford. But it has been suggested the Norwegian tactician is keen to have a more attacking alternative at his disposal.
And, according to The Daily Mail, Maitland-Niles is the man they want despite the impending return from Milan of Diogo Dalot. The Londoner, capped five times by England, has spent the second half of 2020-2021 on loan with West Brom.
He has impressed despite the Baggies failing to avoid relegation to the Championship. The former Ipswich Town loan star has started 12 Premier League games and been used in central midfield.
But he is also comfortable at right back and that is where the Red Devils are keen to deploy him. It remains to be seen if the Gunners would be willing to sell but Maitland-Niles seems open to a permanent exit.
Back in March he told talkSPORT his thoughts behind a winter loan move to the Hawthorns.
“It was just more of a chance for me to show what I’m capable of other than sitting on the bench for the rest of the season and rotting away,” he said.
“The main reason was being able to play as there’s nothing better than playing. I felt it would be great to experience the work of people trying to save their careers and stay in the Premier League.”
Peripheral role won’t do it for Maitland-Niles
Having stated his case for a loan to Albion, it is unlikely that he would want to sit on the United bench. That is what forced his hand at the Emirates and the 23-year-old could be doing a similar job in Manchester.
It is unlikely he would dislodge Wan-Bissaka from the starting role. And it may be a case of playing in cup competitions and the odd substitute appearance late in league games.
That would not suffice for a player clearly with ambitions to play regularly at the highest level. Therefore it appears a long shot that United would lure him to the Theatre of Dreams.
He may leave Arsenal but, with a hefty £20m price tag, suitors could be limited.