Atletico Madrid are preparing to submit a bid for Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the January transfer window, according to Sky Sports.
The Spanish giants will be without Kieran Trippier for 13 games after he received a ten week ban for breaching betting rules by the English FA. Initially, Atletico were set to still play the former Tottenham Hotspur defender as they were unsure if the ban would be upheld outside of England. FIFA have since confirmed that the player’s ban will be implemented worldwide.
As a result of Trippier missing a large chunk of the second half of the season, the Madrid-based club are set to test Arsenal’s resolve by making an offer for Maitland-Niles. They have been keeping tabs on the player for the last twelve months and rate him highly. Diego Simeone’s side are on top of La Liga and seem to have a great chance to win their second title in 25 years.
Maitland-Niles came close to leaving the North London club in the summer after Wolves looked set to agree a £20 million fee for the player but the Gunners decided to keep their academy graduate. The 23-year-old has been one of the few Arsenal players to have performed well when given the opportunity. Many fans of the club have been calling for him to become the first-choice right-back after becoming disillusioned with Hector Bellerin’s erratic form.
The Arsenal academy graduate received his first call-up to the England national team earlier this season and has been part of subsequent squads. He has played five times for his country’s senior side. He has started just four of the Gunners’ first 14 Premier League games this season and a move to Atletico could be enticing at this stage of his career as it could give him a better chance of being a part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for next summer’s European Championship.
From an Arsenal point of view, losing Maitland-Niles next month would be catastrophic. He has shown that he is capable of playing regularly for the first team and his versatility is a real asset. There are a number of players at the club that should be sold but he is, without doubt, one to keep on the books.