West Brom loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles has admitted that he was “rotting away” at parent club Arsenal, and that moving to The Hawthorns on loan was a “perfect fit”.
The 23-year-old was unable to command a regular place under Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta, and had started just five Premier League games out of a possible 21 by the time the January transfer window came around.
When he did start, Maitland-Niles was often deployed as a fullback or wingback, despite favouring a role in central midfield. A move to the Midlands has allowed him to play in that position, and he’s impressed on the whole despite the Baggies’ ongoing struggle to stave off relegation.
Maitland-Niles has started every game possible since joining West Brom, and has now spoken of why he decided to go in an interview with talkSPORT – where he stated that his career was not only stalling at the Emirates, but rotting away.
“It’s another loan deal, you are going to end up going back to the club eventually,” Maitland-Niles commented. “It was just more of a chance for me to show what I’m capable of rather than sitting on the bench for the rest of the season and rotting away.
“The main reason was being able to play as there’s nothing better than playing. I felt it would be great to experience the work of people trying to save their careers and stay in the Premier League. I think it was the perfect fit for me to be here and show them the qualities I can produce.”
Maitland-Niles has been a semi-regular fixture in Gareth Southgate’s England squads over the past year, appearing in five games for the Three Lions – most recently in a 4-0 win against Iceland in November.
But limited game time at Arsenal would likely have extinguished any hopes of making the squad for this summer’s rescheduled European Championships, making a move to West Brom – despite their struggles – even more appealing.
His boss at West Brom is former England manager Sam Allardyce, and Maitland-Niles went on to speak of how different his style is from Arteta.
“They’ve got different ways of dealing with things and saying things to players,” he added. “It’s strange to come out of that one environment and be chucked into something different where everything is different. There’s not one thing the same.”