Interview

‘I’ve come a long way… I’m in touching distance’

It’s been a long journey to our first-team squad, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles believes he is now on the verge of forcing his way into Arsène Wenger’s plans.

The England Under-21 international has been an ever-present at left wing-back in our Europa League and Carabao Cup teams, and even made a late substitute appearance in our Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion.
 
That was the third time Maitland-Niles has featured in a league game for us, and the 20-year-old is targeting a more regular role in our matchday squad.
 
“Right now, I’m still on the way to where I want to be but I have come a long way,” he told Arsenal Player. “It feels like I’m in touching distance of it but there’s still a bit to go.
 
“I feel I’m ready for first-team football but at the same time there’s a lot of players here. Arsenal are a quality club, so it’s just a time where you have to wait until your time comes and then take it when you get onto the pitch.
 
“Breaking into the first team is probably the hardest part. You could be in the first team but becoming a regular is the hardest thing you have to face in your whole journey. There’s players who have been here for years, experienced players, players they’ve bought.
 
“Trying to get them out of the squad and cement your place is very, very hard. It would mean everything to me to step out every week and play for Arsenal. I’ve dreamed of it since I was little and I hope it comes true.”