MATCH chats to the awesome ARSENAL wonderkid about his career so far!
You’ve become a key member of the Arsenal squad this season!
AINSLEY SAYS: “I’d like to think that I’m established, but in my mind I know there’s more to be done – and this is the time to
try to cement my place. Once I’m starting every week, then I can say I’m established!”
What’s your favourite position then, Ainsley?
AINSLEY SAYS: “I actually see myself as a box-to-box midfielder, combining both attacking and defending. I’ve played full-back, which is good experience because it gives you a different view on central midfield – that’s where I want to play!”
How did it feel when Arsene Wenger left the club last year?
AINSLEY SAYS: “He was manager before I was born, so I hadn’t known anything other than Arsene Wenger! I’ll always be grateful for what he did – he’s really knowledgeable, so to have someone like that backing you was a real blessing!”
How important was your loan spell at Ipswich?
AINSLEY SAYS: “That year at Ipswich helped me grow up a lot. It was a really valuable experience, especially under Mick McCarthy – he’s a serious manager. He told me from day one that if I didn’t work hard I wouldn’t play, and I brought that attitude back to Arsenal. The type of football they played was different to Arsenal, but it was good to learn both sides of the game!”
Who’s your best mate in the dressing room?
AINSLEY SAYS: “I would probably say my best mate at Arsenal is Alex Iwobi – we grew up and came through the academy together, so we’re always together in the changing room and having jokes!”
Who is going to be The Gunners’ next big thing?
AINSLEY SAYS: “Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson all have the potential to get into the team because they’ve got loads of talent. Reiss is the most skilful, Joe’s a gritty central midfielder that gets up and down the pitch and Eddie’s fantastic at finishing. They’ve all got something different and are all very talented!”
What are your personal aims?
AINSLEY SAYS: “Definitely to score more goals! If you’re a box-to-box midfielder, you’ll be a lot more valuable to the team if you can get goals, so that has to be a target. In the youth team, I’d usually get at least 15 a season, so if I can match that at first-team level it’d be amazing!”
And are you dreaming of breaking into the England squad, too?
AINSLEY SAYS: “It’s an honour to play for England, so it’s a definite target. What you do for your club is the main thing, because Gareth Southgate will always be watching your matches!”
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was supporting the biggest grassroots football tournament in the country – the PlayStation Schools’ Cup. Since its launch, over 200,000 players have been involved. Visit