Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson thinks Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock could well be offloaded on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
The pair were loaned out to West Brom and Newcastle respectively in the January transfer window and the fact that they were not in manager Mikel Arteta’s plans for the rest of the season has led Merson to assume they are not likely to be at the Emirates for much longer:
“It’s [a] massive three months for Arteta to see who’s going to be there for him and who’s not. He’s allowed a couple of players to go out on loan and I personally think in doing that, he doesn’t see them at Arsenal next season.”
Both Maitland-Niles and Willock have been afforded a decent amount of game time by Arteta this campaign so it may be a bit premature to write off their futures at the Gunners.
Maitland-Niles, in particular, was determined to leave to get more minutes ahead of the European Championships so, if he does well with the Baggies, there is likely to be a place in Arteta’s squad next season.
Willock’s future is probably less clear cut, with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe having jumped ahead of him in the pecking order. After scoring on his debut for Newcastle, though, it will be interesting to see how he performs.