Ainsley Maitland-Niles leaves Arsenal in search of more first-team minutes after just two Premier League starts this season; Roma boss Jose Mourinho said "I know him well" when asked about the speculation; He spent the second half of last season on loan at West Brom
Saturday 8 January 2022 21:14, UK
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has completed a loan move to Roma from Arsenal until the end of the season.
The Arsenal academy graduate, whose contract expires in the summer of 2023, has started just two Premier League games this season but will hope he can kickstart his career under former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho in Italy, alongside former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
"I am just delighted to be here and can't wait to crack on. I want to help the team and show what I can do as a player," England international Maitland-Niles said.
"Thank you to the fans for the support they have already shown me - I hope we can go on to do something great by the end of the season."
Mourinho will be hoping the utility player, deployed at wing-back and central midfield, can make an impact after an inconsistent start to the season has left Roma seventh after 20 games, six points outside the top four.
Maitland-Niles began the season by publicly pleading for a transfer exit in the final days of the summer window after interest from Everton, writing on Instagram: "All I wanna do is go where I'm wanted and where I'm gonna play."
But after holding clear-the-air talks with manager Mikel Arteta it was decided the 24-year-old midfielder would stay until at least January and fight for his place in the team.
Maitland-Niles has since struggled for consistent game time this season - at full-back and in central midfield - and it has been decided he will leave on loan for a second consecutive season.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest, the Gunners manager said: "Ainsley came to me and explained reasons why he thought the best thing for his career is to move away and the opportunity in Rome and working under Jose (Mourinho) was good one.
"We already had this conversation in the summer and said to reassess in December. When a player has strong argument like he had, it's very difficult to turn him away.
"We're very shot at the moment, but this shouldn't be the only reason for keeping a player. Ainsley has been developed and raised through our academy and was very patient in many moments in trying to fulfil his dream.
"He was very straight with me and I understood the situation. Obviously, we're going to move and look for options as we're very shot there."
Last winter, he was recruited by Sam Allardyce to play for West Brom, who were eventually relegated.
Sky Sports' Nick Wright:
Maitland-Niles' Premier League playing time this season amounts to just 265 minutes but Arsenal's willingness to let him leave midway through the season is surprising nonetheless.
The Gunners are, after all, about to lose both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to Africa Cup on Nations duty, leaving Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga as their only senior options.
Maitland-Niles would surely have been useful during that period, especially given Arsenal's hectic schedule, but instead they have granted him his wish for more regular playing time.
It may indicate Arsenal are preparing to bring in midfield reinforcements from elsewhere this month.
For Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, the question is whether he can make his long-desired transformation from versatile squad member to regular starter under the guidance of Jose Mourinho over in Italy.
Who will be on the move in January?
The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
Follow every Arsenal game in the Premier League this season with our live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch match highlights for free shortly after full-time.
Want the Arsenal latest? Bookmark our Arsenal news page, check out Arsenal's fixtures and Arsenal's latest results, watch Arsenal goals and video, keep track of the Premier League table and see which Arsenal games are coming up live on Sky Sports.
Get all this and more - including notifications sent straight to your phone - by downloading the Sky Sports Scores app and setting Arsenal as your favourite team.
Hear the best Premier League reaction and expert analysis with the Essential Football and Gary Neville podcasts, keep up-to-date with our dedicated Transfer Centre, follow the Sky Sports social accounts on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and find out how to get Sky Sports.
Another Saturday, another chance to win £250,000 with Super 6. Play for free, entries by 3pm.