AS Roma is nearing a deal to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal on loan, according to reports. The transaction would coincide with the midfielder having fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal.
Roma manager Jose Mourinho sees Maitland-Niles as a player who can play all over the midfield, offering Roma a much-needed reinforcement amid the manager’s complaints about squad depth.
The Giallorossi have four players with over 2,000 minutes already logged this season, plus another eight with over 1,000 minutes played. That’s followed by a stark dropoff, with few other players outside those 12 contributing meaningful game action for the club.
The 24-year-old Maitland-Niles made his Arsenal debut during the 2014-15 season, but truly broke out two seasons later with 28 appearances during the 2017-18 campaign. He made 83 appearances over the next three seasons, earning five England caps in 2020 after becoming an Arsenal regular under Unai Emery.
Recently, however, Maitland-Niles has fallen down the pecking order a bit under Mikel Arteta’s reign. He has featured just 11 times this campaign, with a mere 472 total minutes played and only four starts, including two in league play. Maitland-Niles is averaging just 52.5 minutes per appearance under Arteta, compared to the 71 minutes per appearance he averaged under Emery.
Another English player in Italy?
Should Maitland-Niles have his move finalized, he would become the latest English player to head to Italy in search of more regular football.
He would join Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham at Roma, with Smalling signing for Roma from Manchester United in October of 2020, and Abraham following from Chelsea this summer to rejoin Mourinho.
Abraham has enjoyed a solid season, scoring six goals and assisting three across his 18 Serie A appearances with the club sitting 6th in the table. He also has another six goals in six Europa Conference League matches as Roma qualified for the knockout stage.
Former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori has also found a regular role in Italy featuring for AC Milan, partnering with captain Alessio Romagnoli in central defense to help the club to a title challenge, currently sitting second, four points back of leaders Inter.