Arsenal are known for developing young players and giving them chances in the first team. The Gunners have had players who were in the youth academy since they were children and eventually break into the first team, some have progressed out of Arsenal’s academy and to become top notch players. This list of stars includes Jack Wilshere, Ashley Cole, and Hector Bellerin to name just a few.
Iwobi, not too long ago, became a regular name in the first team after impressing with the academy. Needless to say the young Nigerian’s been one of Arsenal’s best players this season. The next player to come from Arsenal’s academy and make a name for himself is surely Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Maitland-Niles,19, is a very interesting player. The young Englishman is extremely versatile and has played at winger, full-back, and as a defensive midfielder during his career. I foresee Maitland-Niles really making an impact from either the full-back or defensive midfielder position.
There appeared to be departures looming of the disgruntled Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson at right full-back. Maitland-Niles would serve as the understudy to Hector Bellerin if Debuchy and Jenkinson left today. The young Englishman would have a great mentor in Bellerin. The Spaniard, similarly to the young Englishman, progressed through the Arsenal academy following his arrival from Barcelona and impressed when he got his chance with the first team. Bellerin is now a regular in the starting XI of Arsenal’s first team.
The position which Maitland-Niles has been the most impressive has been at defensive midfield. The youngster produced a master class performance against Southampton over the weekend. The young defensive midfielder finished the game with an impressive 90% passing accuracy, 78 passes, 103 touches, 6 tackles, 7 possessions gained, and 3 interceptions according to Arsenal FC’s official twitter account, ArsenalFC
Maitland-Niles looked very comfortable on the ball and made the game very simple for himself. He looks to be a very smart player with his composure on the ball especially considering he faced a Premier League outfit. He also tracked back very well defensively. The young Englishman played as if he were a veteran at times and looked at home in the Arsenal midfield. With more performances like this he will soon find himself more involved with the first team.