Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles has arrived in Rome ahead of his loan move to Italian side AS Roma.
The Hale End academy graduate has struggled for game time this season, starting just two Premier League matches with Mikel Arteta‘s side.
Despite fellow-midfielders Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny travelling to Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations, Maitland-Niles decided it was the best time for him to head out on loan in search of some consistent minutes, linking up with countryman Tammy Abraham in the Italian capital.
Speaking about the move ahead of Arsenal‘s FA Cup clash against Nottingham Forest, Arteta said: “Ainsley came to me and explained the reasons why he thought the best thing for him and his career was to move away.
“He felt the opportunity to go to Rome and work with Jose was a good one. Being fair with the amount of minutes that he’s played he was entitled to that opportunity. We wish him the best.
“We’re very short at the moment [in midfield], but this shouldn’t be the only reason for keeping a player.
“Ainsley was very straight with me and I understood the situation. Obviously, we’re going to move and look for options as we’re very short there.”
The 24-year-old has less than 18 months to run on his current contract at the Emirates Stadium, meaning he will be into the final year of his deal when he returns this summer.
Now, the Gunners only have Albert Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka as recognised central midfield options until Partey and Elneny return from their exploits in Cameroon.