The Gunners star was the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the summer, with Wolves submitting an offer, but he remains in London
Ainsley Maitland-Niles says Mikel Arteta convinced him to stay at Arsenal after making him realise he was not yet showing his full potential.
The 23-year-old was the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the summer, with Wolves submitting an offer in excess of £20 million ($26m) for the Arsenal academy product.
Arteta was always adamant he wanted Maitland-Niles to stay, however, and pointed to the fact that he started him in both the FA Cup semi-final and final as an example of his faith in the youngster – but that did not stop the speculation and for a time it looked like a move to Wolves was a real possibility.
Ultimately Maitland-Niles opted to resist the advances of the Midlands outfit, however, and says it was a chat with his manager that convinced him to stay put.
“There was a lot of speculation going around, but I chose to stay at the club I love,” he said. “I am happy with my decision and I am sure the manager is happy that I stayed as well.
“It was about the manager having faith in me and him letting me know what’s going on and the situation. He did that and everything was fine in the end.
“He just installed a lot of confidence in me that I had in myself, but maybe I didn’t know how to bring out. He has helped me do that. We work well as a team together and he knows how to get the best out of me, and now I am learning to get the best out of myself more regularly now. I can only thank him along the way and carry on the run of form we have had.”
Soon after Arteta arrived at Arsenal in December, he publicly challenged Maitland-Niles to show him he was worth a place in the team.
Having started the first few games under the Spaniard, he soon found game time hard to come by and was told by Arteta he needed to “put his head down and work hard” to force his way back into the picture.
That led to suggestions the pair had fallen out, something Maitland-Niles insists was not the case.
“There was never a rocky relationship between us,” he said ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League meeting with Rapid Vienna on Thursday night. “It was just he demanded more from me than I was demanding from myself. He told me that and I had to work to do to get back into the team. That’s as simple as it was.
“The manager can always see different things than a player can see because he is looking at it from a different angle. He has got different feelings, different emotions to what I feel at the time. It is a good job that I did listen. It is all paying off now.”
“The game time I get I really enjoy it,” he said. “Obviously it is coming with more pressure right now because I am on a bigger stage.
“I am still happy to play my way in and keep working hard, try to show the manager I am the best man for the job. That is what I am going to keep trying to do.”