Paul Merson has claimed that Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles don’t have long-term futures at Arsenal after the respective players left the club on loan.
Willock joined Newcastle United and scored on his Premier League debut for the club, meanwhile, Maitland-Niles made the move to West Bromwich Albion and lost his debut game against Tottenham Hotspur.
Writing for Sky Sports, the former Highbury favourite has warned Mikel Arteta that the next three months will decide who he will want to keep at the club for next season.
Merson said: “It’s 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.” (via Sky Sports)
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This seems to be an incredible prediction from the pundit especially after what Arteta said otherwise regarding Willock after he was sent out on loan. The Spanish coach spoke of his keeness to help the 20-year-old progress his career, speaking positively of his future in north London.
With Maitland-Niles, there’s still time for him to make his mark in N5 despite his lack of regular starts in the first-half of the season. Arsenal currently have a lack of unique options in the centre of midfield with just Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny.
With his loan move to The Hawthorns offering his the chance to start regularly in the centre of the pitch, the England internatinal finally has a platform upon which he can impress Arteta. It seems like an age ago, but, his performance away to Manchester United highlighted that he could well have a future in the centre.
Despite being sent away last month, there’s still plenty of time for the duo to make an impression under the former Manchester City coach. The squad has shown this season that there are plenty of places up for grabs, and I’d be surprised if the youngsters weren’t among the options to snatch them.