Ainsley Maitland-Niles signed a long-term contract extension with Premier League side Arsenal. The midfielder broke into the Arsenal team on a regular basis last season under Arsene Wenger as he made 28 appearances in a variety of positions. And now he has been rewarded for his efforts.

As announced on Tuesday, Maitland-Niles has agreed to a new long-term contract to keep him at the Emirates for the foreseeable future. In the announcement, Maitland-Niles revealed the interaction that he had with new manager Unai Emery and what it felt to be named in the press conference by Ivan Gazidis as one of the players that Emery gushed about the interview process.

“It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down [with a new contract]. I’m very pleased. We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me,” said Maitland-Niles in an interview with Arsenal Player.

While the 20-year old had always been considered a great talent and one of Arsenal’s rare starlets having joined the academy at just 9 years old, he had never quite proven it for the first team. Last season, he played more than 1500 minutes in the Europa League and Premier League, fielded at multiple positions including left-back, left wing-back and centre midfield, impressing in all three positions. It really was his proper breakthrough season.

“I think it’s brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence. It feels fantastic knowing that I’m going to be a part of the squad, and a big part of the squad,” he added.

Maitland-Niles is in the best position to enjoy a wonderful footballing career. He obviously has a natural talent and has shown a great work ethic, something that a lot of players lack today. He has a coach who seems willing to play him on a regular basis, to trust him in the big matches, and to allow him to make mistakes and to improve because of them. 

Arsenal has also announced Maitland-Niles will wear the number 15 shirt, last worn by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This seems one of the biggest signs of his importance to the squad.

He has captained England at youth level and was a crucial part of the side that won the Under-20 World Cup in June 2017. The step from youth football to senior football is one of the most unpredictable periods during the development of any player. It can take years for an individual to establish themselves as a true starter. Maitland-Niles will be hoping that he gets recognition and love from the fans and more importantly, an important spot on the team.

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