Ainsley Maitland-Niles has revealed Mikel Arteta convinced him to stay at Arsenal this summer by convincing he had much more to give for the Gunners.
Maitland-Niles was the subject of a bid from Wolves believed to be around £20million, and there was much speculation that he could leave the Emirates to raise funds for Arteta’s squad revamp.
However, the manager always wanted him to stay, showing his faith in the midfielder by starting him in both the FA Cup final and semi-final last summer.
And the 23-year-old’s versatility has proved more than useful in the early stages of the season, with Maitland-Niles having played on the right of midfield, as a left wing-back and at right-back.
He has also broken into the England set-up, having made his first start against Denmark last week, as he increasingly shows the potential Arteta knew he had.
And Maitland-Niles has confirmed it was a pep talk from his manager that convinced him to resist Wolves’ advances.
“There was a lot of speculation going around, but I chose to stay at the club I love,” he said in quotes reported by Goal.
“I am happy with my decision and I am sure the manager is happy that I stayed as well.
“It was about the manager having faith in me and him letting me know what’s going on and the situation. He did that and everything was fine in the end.
“He just installed a lot of confidence in me that I had in myself, but maybe I didn’t know how to bring out.
“He has helped me do that. We work well as a team together and he knows how to get the best out of me, and now I am learning to get the best out of myself more regularly now.
“I can only thank him along the way and carry on the run of form we have had.”
Shortly after Arteta took charge last December, the manager told Maitland-Niles to “put his head down and work hard” for a place in the team.
That led to speculation that player and coach had fallen out – but Maitland-Niles says that was never the case.
“There was never a rocky relationship between us,” he said. “It was just he demanded more from me than I was demanding from myself. He told me that and I had to work to do to get back into the team. That’s as simple as it was.”
Maitland-Niles will hope to be involved when Arteta’s side open their Europa League campaign on Thursday night against Rapid Vienna in Austria.
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