Bengaluru, March 5: Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles has emerged as a summer transfer target for Inter and AC Milan, according to Italian outlet Calciomercato.
Former manager promoted the midfielder to the right-back slot due to the absence of Hector Bellerin and the English international has had a mixed campaign, with 24 appearances so far.
The academy graduate too started off Arteta's reign in favour and started each of the Spaniard's first five games in charge, but following the return of Hector Bellerin from the injury he has not featured in the club's past three Premier League matchday squads. The 22-year-old has not featured in the Premier League since the draw with Sheffield United on January 18 and was named only amongst the substitutes for Arsenal's FA Cup fifth-round victory over Portsmouth.
It is understood that Arteta has not been impressed with the defender lately due to his commitment to the training ground and hence has taken this decision. But this reportedly has caught the eye of two Serie A duo, Inter and AC Milan who have reportedly enquired about the situation.
Both the Italian sides are looking for a right-back as per reports. Inter Milan are reportedly keen on bringing in a younger player to act as their long-term right-back. AC Milan on the other hand, reportedly are looking for a Summer shake-up which may free current fullbacks, Andrea Conti and Davide Calabria and it could intensify a move for the defender.
But despite such rumours, it is still understood that the academy prospect still can have a future with the Gunners. Recently Arteta has sharply provided a message to the player that to knuckle down and prove his worth he has to work hard. In two separate occasions, he was dropped from the side where he was replaced by Sokratis at right-back.
It is believed to be a similar message to the ones delivered to Dani Ceballos and Matteo Guendouzi to train hard and fight for your place. It seems to have worked for those two and Arteta may have presented the player identical treatment.
Maitland-Niles has expressed a desire in the past to play as a central midfielder. And with the Gunners not having enough depth at the midfield with Ozil and Torreira's future still up in the air, there could be a role for Maitland-Niles in the centre of the park if he proves his worth.
But it now remains to be seen how the player responds to the criticism. But one thing is for sure if he can't manage the assessment and decides to move on, it may not affect Arsenal in the long run. Maitland-Niles is under contract at the club until 2023, should he decides to move Arteta may look to cash in on him and instead can use the money to add more funds to their Summer transfer kitty.