Southampton are set to sign Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan with the option to buy, as per Fabrizio Romano.
The Italian journalist has reported that the Saints are closing in on the versatile English defender, with a loan switch is in the offing. The deal will include a buy option, although the fee is currently undisclosed.
Maitland-Niles will travel for a medical once personal terms have been agreed for him to become a new Saints player. The right-back, who can also play as a central midfielder and as a left-back, spent last season on loan at Serie A side AS Roma.
However, he had issues breaking into Jose Mourinho’s side, making just 12 appearances throughout the campaign.
Maitland-Niles has returned to Arsenal where he faces huge competition to break into Mikel Arteta’s team. The Gunners have Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White and Cedric Soares vying for the right-back berth under Arteta.
The north London side possess strength in depth in midfield with the likes of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny.
Maitland-Niles has been linked with a move to Newcastle United but appears to be on his way to Southampton. He has made 132 appearances for the Gunners, scoring three goals whilst providing eight assists. The versatile right-back has a year left remaining on his current deal at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal defender Maitland-Niles needs game time
Maitland-Niles caused controversy when he posted a message on his Instagram late last year, saying:
“All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play.”
It came after the Arsenal defender was denied a loan move to Everton and his frustrations with his situation were clear. The Englishman eventually joined Roma but his spell with the Serie A side was unsuccessful.
Maitland-Niles can offer sides real versatility and just needs a consistent role in a team. Southampton may be the perfect suitor for him given the squad Ralph Hassenhuttl is building at St Mary’s Stadium.
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