Promoted club Nottingham Forest are still in the early stages of negotiating a deal for Arsenal wing-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles after launching an enquiry for his services, as per a report from Football.London.
The 24-year-old spent the second half of the 2021/22 campaign at Serie A side AS Roma but spend much of his time at the Stadio Olimpico on the bench and isn’t guaranteed to be a regular first-teamer at the Emirates next season either.
With Cedric, Hector Bellerin and Takehiro Tomiyasu all available as options to Mikel Arteta at this stage, he could be deemed surplus to requirements and Forest are one side interested in taking him off the north London side’s hands.
Quiz: 23 things literally every Nottingham Forest fan should know – But do you?
They are currently in need of a first-choice right wing-back with Djed Spence not guaranteed to return to the City Ground this summer amid intense interest from Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with Richie Laryea rarely being used by Steve Cooper since his arrival in January.
Also able to play in the middle of the park, that’s another area where Forest are short of options with Cafu’s future uncertain and James Garner returning to Manchester United last month following the expiration of his loan spell in the East Midlands.
However, the Reds are not yet in advanced talks to recruit Maitland-Niles just yet, with a deal still thought to be in its early stages.
This is exactly the sort of signing Forest should be making, with the 24-year-old already having top-tier experience under his belt and that could help to complement the likes of Joe Worrall and others who are talented but haven’t plied their trade in the top flight before.
The fact he can play in midfield and at wing-back will give Cooper different options and that can only be a good thing with the Welshman needing depth – but may not have the funds to add too many first-teamers to his squad.
He should be given a main position to operate in though because that will give Forest’s manager a clearer idea of where he should prioritise his money, though Spence’s situation could be dependent on where Maitland-Niles starts.
If the Middlesbrough star arrives at the City Ground once more, you’d have to say the Arsenal man would be played in midfield alongside Ryan Yates or James Garner if the latter links up with the Reds again.
And there’s no doubt he should be a starter in the Midlands with his pedigree, with Forest potentially needing to fork out a sizeable sum for his services despite reports that the Gunners are willing to cash in.