There’s so much speculation during any transfer window and in case of Arsenal, almost anyone with two functioning legs is linked with the club, but perhaps, we should concentrate on those names that we didn’t expect to head through the exit door – Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has had his issues under Mikel Arteta and Unai Emery, but his last two performances in an Arsenal shirt seemed to end speculation that he might be ushered out of the club. In particular, he looked dynamic and energised against Chelsea in the FA cup final, blazing down the right-wing to link-up with Aubameyang.
It wasn’t even the same player, not compared to some of the woolly performances that he had delivered this season and I noted at the time that on this performance alone he wouldn’t be moving anywhere. That conclusion was, apparently, wrong because the midfielder/winger/right-back is up for sale without the blessing of Mikel Arteta.
The fact that AMN can become a vital utility player is worth more than the reported £30m that the club are looking for and there are others in the queue, more deserving of being jettisoned by the Gunners. I must admit that when the player was moaning about being played out of position, I thought “move him on”, but it seems that Arteta has got through to the youngster and as a result, he has been fairly impressive.
Hector Bellerin (25) is another who, according to Sky Germany via HITC, is open to a move and new challenge. The Spaniard has been at Arsenal since 2013 and has been a consistent performer until his recent injury (ruptured cruciate knee ligament). He’s struggled to find his best form since his return but was an integral part of Arsenal’s win over Chelsea with a lightening sprint upfield to assist with Aubameyang’s second.
Some fans feel he’s past his best, but I’d like to see him at the Emirates with William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Kieran Tierney in an exciting backline. If Arsenal are to finally get rid of the surplus stock, I’d start elsewhere and place this duo at the bottom of the list, below Chambers, Ozil, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Holding, and Torreira.
In the case of Bellerin, he may want to leave to achieve having waited for titles and European success and who could blame him, but he has never gone on record to seek a move or hinted that his association with Arsenal was coming to an end.
Arteta is trying to establish a new era and it’s the type of thing that will motivate and appeal to Bellerin. Within two weeks, we may have some insight into Arteta’s master plan which supposedly still includes Thomas Partey and Phillipe Coutinho, but don’t hold your breath on that front, that’s a massive outlay from the club in the current circumstances.