Ainsley Maitland-Niles transfer drama hints at Arsenal manager Mikel Artetas struggles

Arteta warns fans Arsenal project will 'take some time'

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles will stay at Arsenal after a morning training with the kids and clear-the-air talks with manager Mikel Arteta. But the frustration he expressed on Instagram on Monday was echoed all over social media by Arsenal fans after a low-key transfer deadline day.

After three defeats and not even a single goal to show for their season before, supporters of the team bottom of the table had hoped for a strong character to come in and help lead the young talent at the club out of their current doldrums.

But finally allowing Hector Bellerin’s ill-disguised wishes for an exit with a loan move to Real Betis – and replacing him with inexperienced Japan international Takehiro Tomiyasu – did not satisfy that demand.

The 22-year-old was signed for £17m from Bologna on a four-year contract with an option of a year-long extension.

Good on the ball, the 6ft 2in defender can play at either right-back or in the centre but despite citing Javier Mascherano as his hero he is far from the midfield enforcer supporters have been crying out for.

His ability to play on the right flank was not even deemed enough of a cover to allow Maitland-Niles his wishes to “go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play”.

He was made to train away from the rest of the first team – a far cry from this time last year when he was part of the England squad.

The 24-year-old was then asked to report to the manager’s office after the morning session and was told in no uncertain terms that he would be staying at the club.

That was not least because Everton’s interest had cooled and there appeared to be no other offers left on the table.

The indiscipline, though, only adds to the sense that Arteta is struggling to juggle affairs at the north London club.

Despite the relatively quiet final day, the Gunners have invested heavily in Nuno Tavares, Albert Lokonga, Ben White and Martin Odegaard, with Arteta expected to mould them into a team capable of challenging for Europe again.

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Arteta has also been charged with clearing out the deadwood from his squad with no European football to occupy them this season.

Reiss Nelson followed Willian and Lucas Torreira out of the door when he secured a loan move to Feyenoord for the rest of the season.

Arsenal’s next five fixtures post-international break

Sat Sept 11: Norwich home (3pm) – Premier League
Sat Sept 18: Burnley away (12.30pm) – Premier League
Tues Sept 21 or Weds Sept 22: Wimbledon home (TBD) – Carabao Cup third round
Sun Sept 26: Tottenham home (4.30pm) – Premier League
Sat Oct 2: Brighton away (5.30pm) – Premier League

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