Leicester City have emerged as the new favourites to make a late January swoop for Arsenal and England star Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The 23-year-old has put Premier League rivals on alert after declaring he wants to move.
The Gunners ace has eyes on playing in this summer’s European Championships. But he’s being denied game time under Mikel Arteta. And he knows that will count against him in his bid to make Gareth Southgate‘s squad.
It’s already understood that three Premier League teams have shown an interest. The trio are Southampton, West Brom and Newcastle.
But The Mirror suggest Leicester could now be in pole position. The Foxes could come in with a loan deal and an option to make it permanent this summer.
One key to any move is where Maitland-Niles will play.
Southampton have said they view him as a full-back. But the player believes his future is further forward in midfield.
As it stands, he has two years left on his contract. That leaves Arsenal short of time. If they don’t act on some level, his value could go down. Therefore, the temptation to cash in soon makes appeal.
Wolves made a £20million bid for the youngster in the last window that didn’t come to fruition. And there have also been suitors from abroad with Atletico Madrid registering an interest.
Maitland-Niles and Leicester could be ideal fit
Maitland-Niles looked to be firmly establishing himself last season. He was a regular in Arsenal’s run-in and a key performer as the Gunners beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
But he’s been far less certain of his starting place this term. And that’s a concern as he looks to press on and build his England career.
Gareth Southgate is clearly a fan. And Maitland-Niles played fives times for England in 2020.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has a reputation for developing young stars. And that could prove a factor as the London-born star ponders his next move.