How Arsenal player Ainsley Maitland-Niles impressed Wenger

Arsenal player Ainsley Maitland-Niles proved himself a fearless, talented and versatile midfielder against Southampton, and fans have never stopped singing his praises since that awesome performance.

However, what Arsene Wenger thinks about the England Under 20s captain will surprise you.

The youngster was listed with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, yet his age had no negative effect on the confidence he displayed with more accurate passes, clean tackles and interceptions.

Football analysts believe Ainsley has built a solid foundation for his place as the future of Arsenal.

They say the 19-year-old’s maturity rests high above his age, and Arsenal coach agrees to that.

The 67-year-old French manager spoke with Arsenal Weekly podcast, saying: “All that you can do as a young player when you know you’re going to get limited opportunities in the first team is show the manager what you’re about in training and in games.

“You have to be very impressive, confident in what you’re doing, and he [Ainsley] was very accomplished on the ball,” he added.

“The thing I liked most, though, was his defending in wide areas around the edge of the box.

“He saw players were out of position and then he was willing to cover those areas, didn’t dive in, and got the vital blocks and challenges in. He will be very happy with his performance and he’ll certainly be giving Arsène Wenger a little nudge in the future for regular first-team football.”

Ainsley plays as a winger, midfielder and right-back for the Gunners. He’s a graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End Academy.

His first professional contract with Arsenal was signed on 24 October, 2014, after a successful career with the club’s U21 team during the 2013-2014 season.

The player had a stint with Ipswich Town between 2015-2016 (on loan).