Ainsley Maitland-Niles, keep or sell?
The versatile product of Hale End is rumored to be a target for Wolves, with Nuno Espírito Santo wanting to replace the departing Matt Doherty with our player.
While for the Club the only issue seems to be price, for the supporters the sale itself is the problem: many seem to rate him very highly, some even above Héctor Bellerín, and simply don’t want to see him gone.
I understand why some would like him to stay and surely he has some potential but would he be a starter? Would he take us to the very top? I don’t think so.
There was a time when our best players were coveted by the biggest Clubs, while now we have Wolves playing low-ball for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Newcastle inquiring for a loan deal involving Rob Holding, Fulham rumored to be interested by Calum Chambers and Serie A mid-table Clubs asking about the availability of Lucas Torreira. This might have something to do with the current market and financial difficulties but the lack of money isn’t the issue: the lack of quality within our squad is.
It’s great to see players coming through the ranks and make it to the first team but let’s be honest, how many of them really are up to the standards that we expect?
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, like Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, provided excellent cover and surely had his moments – especially in the FA Cup semi-final and final – but we’re not talking about one of the best young players in England, let alone in Europe, or someone who could go down in our history books. The best contribution to our fortunes he could aspire to is to become one of the valuable assets sold for profit, re-invested in better players.
It’s always easy to reflect in hindsight but we hang on so many average players, for years, and never had the courage to sell them when the timing was right: we are constantly reminded about how we lost Serge Gnabry for only £ 7m but none mention how we lost Jack Wilshere for free, Aaron Ramsey for free, Joel Campbell for £ 1m, Chuba Akpom for £ 1m, Nicklas Bendtner for nothing, Lukasz Fabianski for nothing, Denílson for nothing, Johan Djourou for £ 2m, Emmanuel Eboué for £ 3m.
For every Serge Gnabry there are nine players we didn’t make enough profit with, or any at all.
For every Serge Gnabry there are nine players we should have sold earlier and whose departure wouldn’t have had any impact on our fortunes – but we weren’t ruthless enough.
Things seemed to have changed, recently, with the high-profile sales of Alex Iwobi to Everton and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool and it’s time to keep walking down that line, whenever a decent offer comes in.
The money on offer for Ainsley Maitland-Niles is considered not enough but what if we sold Jack Wilshere for £ 20m, when he still had some appeal? Surely there would have been questions and anger but let’s face it, beside being “one of our own”, Jack Wilshere was an injury-prone player with attitude problems, so getting £ 20m would have been a good deal.
To quote Arsène Wenger, “everyone believes that he has the prettiest wife at home” but Ainsley Maitland-Niles is as inconsistent as he is versatile, so where do we draw the line?
He might end up being one of the best wing-backs in the league OR he might keep being the inconsistent player he’s been so far; we might end up regretting him like we do for Serge Gnabry or we might look at this transfer, in hindsight, and realize how we outsmarted the market – to use a very popular term.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.