Ainsley Maitland-Niles had arguably his best game in a West Brom shirt in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Burnley and was praised by Kevin Campbell for his ‘Premier League level performance’.
The former Baggies striker also issued a warning to the on-loan 23-year-old, telling him he needs to maintain consistency to stand a chance of playing in midfield under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal next season.
Campbell told Football Insider: “It is a case of don’t tell me, show me with Maitland-Niles. He needs to show that he is a centre-midfielder with his performances and against Burnley it was a Premier League level performance in the middle of the park.
“It is all about consistency though. If he can do it week in, week out Mikel Arteta will consider him in midfield for Arsenal next season. Arteta will think, ‘Actually, I will use him in there.’ He is only on loan.”
Maitland-Niles made 21 appearances across the board for Arsenal in 2020/21, but he amassed fewer than 500 minutes of Premier League football and spent most of the campaign on the bench in north London (Transfermarkt).
The 23-year-old had interest from Southampton and Leicester City when news of his availability broke in January, but he opted for West Brom as they promised him playing time in his preferred midfield position.
That decision has been vindicated when looking at Maitland-Niles’ performances, so Arsenal should be pleased with the progress he has made so far.
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Campbell is right in saying that Maitland-Niles needs to keep this up over the long-term to convince Arteta back at Arsenal, so time will tell if he can maintain a high level of performance for the rest of the season.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and Maitland-Niles is flourishing with regular playing time in midfield. It may not be enough to keep West Brom in the Premier League, but he’s proving a point to his parent club at least.