Southampton are now leading the hunt to sign England international Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal on loan.
The Daily Mail reports that the Saints have edged out West Ham and south coast rivals Bournemouth in the race.
They want to craft an initial loan deal with an option to buy, with the Gunners pushing for a fee for the 24-year-old.
Maitland-Niles still has a year left on his contract, but the Gunners have the option of triggering an extra year, so maybe something could be done that nets them a fee later.
Southampton lead race for Maitland-Niles
The report says Maitland-Niles is now set to leave the club in the coming days, with the England man having fallen so far out of favor at Arsenal.
He has to go and play regular matches somewhere as his career has plummeted since he was in the England picture under Gareth Southgate.
With the World Cup on the horizon, he is not in Southgate’s plans at all, and his aim must be to establish himself at a Premier League club.
Maitland-Niles played in a variety of positions and that no doubt hindered his development, but he earned huge praise from Martin Keown at his best.
Keown said in 2020: “You rarely get a player with his pace in this role. I would have loved that as a player. It is sometimes a Rolls-Royce player.
“There’s quality there, he’s growing and improving every time I see him. I think he’s ready for that central position.
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