Ainsley Maitland-Niles has come a long way since making his Arsenal debut at Galatasaray back in December 2014.
Then just 17 years and 102 days old, the midfielder went on to make three further senior appearances that season, before a loan spell with Championship side Ipswich Town offered him the chance for more regular first-team football the following campaign.
“I think me going on loan, it turned me in to a man pretty quickly that year being by myself and being away from home,” he told Arsenal Player. “It just made me grow up more and mature my game.”
Maitland-Niles won Ipswich’s Player of the Month award just weeks after joining the club and upon returning to north London, became a full-time member of Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad.
“The more you go over to train with the first team when you're young they get to know you more, see what you're about,” the 20-year-old said. “They get to trust you more and then you start having little conversations with the boss then and there and you can ask him things, what he thinks you need to improve on, and he will tell you the honest truth.
“The best advice he’s given me is just to be confident in myself, play with no barriers up and show what I can do. He’s also helped me with my ball winning. He told me I have the ability to do so if I put my mind to it and just really focus on those sorts of things. He's told me not to be so relaxed in games and really go for it, and I think I’ve been putting it into work more and more recently.”
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