In Profile: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

By SFC Media time Fri 02 Sep Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Photo by Getty Images | Ainsley Maitland-Niles

With an ability to play in the heart of midfield and in both full-back positions, Southampton’s loan acquisition of Ainsley Maitland-Niles certainly adds to the options at Ralph Hasenhüttl’s disposal.

Raised in North London, the 25-year-old started his footballing journey at the tender age of six, working his way up the age groups of Arsenal’s Hale End Academy before signing his first professional deal in October 2014.

His breakthrough into the first team followed just 46 days later; 17-year-old Maitland-Niles becoming Arsenal’s second youngest player to represent the club in the Champions League with 45 minutes against Galatasaray.

A Premier League debut followed just four days later, replacing Saints Academy graduate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the 4-1 win over Newcastle United.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool runs with the ball past Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on November 20, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Maitland-Niles keeps tabs on Mohamed Salah at Anfield

Encouraging performances during the 2014/15 season then saw Maitland-Niles earn an opportunity to gain further experience out on loan, signing for then Championship side Ipswich Town.

The youngster hit the ground running with the Tractor Boys, being described by manager Mick McCarthy as “outstanding” and being awarded the club’s Player of the Month for September.

Maitland-Niles scored his first senior goal in November 2015, a low left-footed finish from 25 yards during the 2-0 win over Bolton.

TIRANA, ALBANIA - MAY 25: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of AS Roma poses with the UEFA Europa Conference League Trophy after winning the UEFA Europa Conference League Trophy between AS Roma and Feyenoord at Arena Kombetare on May 25, 2022 in Tirana, Albania. (Photo by Tullio Puglia - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
With the Europa Conference League trophy after Roma's triumph last season

Following a spell which saw him make 32 appearances and score twice in all competitions, he returned to the Gunners for what became his breakthrough period at the club.

During Arsène Wenger’s last season at the club Maitland-Niles established himself as a regular, making 28 appearances and signing a new long-term contract in June 2018.

A first Arsenal goal followed under Unai Emery, notching the opener against Liverpool at Anfield in December of the same year.

With Mikel Arteta now the manager, Maitland-Niles received the Man of the Match award and scored the second penalty during the Community Shield shoot-out win over Liverpool.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Ainsley Maitland-Niles of England battles for possession with Chris Gunter and Neco Williams of Wales during the international friendly match between England and Wales at Wembley Stadium on October 08, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images)
Maitland-Niles has five caps for the England senior team, all earned in 2020

This came with rewards at international level too. Having represented the Three Lions at every age group between Under-17s and Under-21s, Gareth Southgate awarded him his England senior debut in August 2020 during the Nations League games against Denmark.

In January 2022, after struggling to kick on in the Arsenal team, Maitland-Niles went on loan to Serie A side Roma, where he was part of the squad who won the Europa Conference League.

An energetic, pacey player, the England international will be hoping to regain his impressive form from previous loan moves during this spell on the south coast.

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