Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles may bid farewell to north London once again this season as Premier League outfit Southampton is pushing hard for the Hale End Academy graduate.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints are reportedly targeting the 24-year-old London native and England international utility man per reports from transfer insider Fabrizio Romano amid interest from a handful of other Premier League clubs as Maitland-Niles enters the final year of his deal at the Emirates Stadium.
With his current contract with the Gunners also containing the option to extend his terms until 2024, Arsenal is said to look to include a buy-option in any negotiations with Saints that could eventually see Maitland-Niles finally depart the club after being on the periphery of the first-team over the last two seasons under Mikel Arteta.
Maitland-Niles was relegated to nothing more than a depth option during the first half of both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 Premier League campaigns before securing January loan moves to West Bromwich Albion and AS Roma respectively, with neither club keen to press home their interest in the midfielder once his loan stint came to an end.
Should Saints eventually strike terms with the Gunners over a loan move, it would be the seventh summer signing at St. Mary’s Stadium this summer and the third addition into the midfield under Hasenhüttl after the club added both Manchester City youth starlet Roméo Lavia and Rangers’ Nigerian international Joe Aribo for a combined £16m.
Given the situation with Arsenal surrounding their persistent interest in Leicester City’s Belgian international midfielder Youri Tielemans after the Foxes are expected to further soften their stance on allowing the former RSC Anderlecht starlet to leave the King Power Stadium this summer, a departure by Maitland-Niles would certainly free up space in the senior setup under Arteta to pave the way for another major signing at the Emirates before the window slams shut in just one week.