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Why this 20-year-old academy prospect might be the solution to Arsenal’s midfield problems

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Why Arsenal must provide more chances for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to start

For years now, Arsenal have produced some of the finest young talents in the world of football. Their esteemed academy has been responsible for putting forth quite a few well-known faces but it has been quite some time since a youth star of theirs did something noteworthy.

Suddenly, one day, a young player named Ainsley Maitland-Niles came on to the field and started making substitute appearances for the club, following which he has also managed to cement a spot for himself in the first-team.

The player, who is a natural central midfielder, has been restricted to mainly appearing as a wing-back or as a full-back throughout the season so far. In fact, he got a golden opportunity to break into the team when Sead Kolasinac got injured.

Kolasinac has easily been one of Arsenal’s best this season and Maitland-Niles came in to replace him for a while. Niles’ performances were so good that he actually started acting as tough competition for Kolasinac.

However, during the Gunners’ recent 3-0 win over F. K. Ostersunds, Maitland-Niles was finally allowed to start as a central midfielder. Like always, the 20-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands and put in a solid display, which should be convincing enough for Wenger to utilise him in that position a lot more in the coming months.

Maitland-Niles with Arsene Wenger

There is no doubt that Arsenal need a new central midfielder and they have been linked with signing a few in the upcoming summer window. Considering the way Maitland-Niles played though, he might have just done enough to make a strong case for himself starting in that area more often. And if he can establish himself as a midfielder, then perhaps Arsenal can save their money to spend on strengthening other areas.

More than anything else, the player has displayed an admirable sense of determination throughout the season so far. He gritted his teeth and soldiered through every single position he has played in – and no matter how different the role has been, he has excelled.

His presence of mind and pace are truly impressive and perhaps Wenger should consider providing him more chances as a central midfielder in the first-team. Wenger has been quite an influential figure in developing and nurturing young talent in the past and there is no reason why he cannot do the same with Maitland-Niles as well. If all goes well with the starlet, Arsenal might be looking at the next big superstar to emerge from their academy.