Mikel Arteta and Arsenal were ‘wrong’ for ‘humiliating’ Ainsley Maitland-Niles by forcing him to train with the reserves this week, says Chris Sutton.
Maitland-Niles took to social media to explain his frustration at his lack of game time at Arsenal, attempting to gain media traction to force through a move to Everton on deadline day.
The academy graduate was then forced to train with the reserves before holding ‘clear the air’ talks with Arteta, which appears to have smoothed things over.
But despite Sutton believing Maitland-Niles didn’t go about things in the best way, he explained in his column for the Daily Mail that he thought the club also handled the situation poorly.
‘One player who will need to work hard to get onside is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The player’s social media post in which he made clear his desire to leave was unwise.
‘That was only ever going to anger his employers. But when I read that Maitland-Niles was training with the kids on Tuesday, I thought that was wrong. That doesn’t help anybody. It’s humiliating.
‘Arteta’s kept hold of him, apparently after clear-the-air talks. I’m sure Maitland-Niles was assured he’ll get his chance to impress. We’ll see. In a way, Arsenal keeping a player against his will sums up the underwhelming status of the club right now.’
The Gunners were the biggest spenders in the Premier League this summer, adding the deadline day signing of Takehiro Tomiyasu to Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Taveres.
But Sutton claims it’s been an underwhelming window for a club that can no longer attract the very best players around.
He added: ‘They’re all decent players, don’t get me wrong. Tomiyasu, who joined on deadline day, is a nice signing. He’s only 22 and he can play at centre back, right back or right wing back, so he gives you options.
‘But that list of names doesn’t give me that oomph — that sense that this is a game-changer. None of them are the finished product. Not even White who, at £50m, is a very big investment.
‘Part of the problem with Arsenal is how do you attract the best of the best when you finished eighth in the Premier League last season and you’re currently bottom?
‘Players like Ronaldo don’t go for that. They go for clubs who are proven to be competitive and that’s not Arsenal of late.
‘Joe Willock, Hector Bellerin, David Luiz and Willian, among others, have left. The board must trust Mikel Arteta. You imagine he’s given the nod to these comings and goings and he’ll want time to work with his new guys. But Arteta needs results fast, too.’