Maitland-Niles: where will he play under Mourinho?

epa09594508 Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles (L) in action against Liverpool's Sadio Mane (R) during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC in Liverpool, Britain, 20 November 2021. EPA-EFE/TIM KEETON EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications

With reports emerging that Ainsley Maitland-Niles is close to joining Roma, now is a pertinent time to predict where the Englishman may play under Jose Mourinho.

The 24-year-old, who is a product of Arsenal’s youth system, is an experienced Premier League player, having made 132 first team appearances for the Gunners. The Englishman was initially deployed as a right back but has since expressed his desire to play as a central midfielder, something he has done on multiple occasions this campaign under Mikel Arteta.

Mourinho is not a coach who is wedded to a particular formation; this season he has set up Roma in both a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-5-2, giving him tactical flexibility for particular opponents. This also allows him to utilise Maitland-Niles in a variety of roles.

Should the Portuguese coach continuing using the 3-5-2 formation, Maitland-Niles is likely to be deployed in the centre of the midfield five, allowing him to move Henrikh Mkhitaryan into a more attacking role. He could also play on the right side of the midfield five, combining his qualities as both a midfielder and a right back.

If Mourinho returns to using a 4-2-3-1 system then it’s likely that Maitland-Niles would be used as part of the midfield two in front of the defence; the Englishman shines with the ball at his feet, being a good dribbler, and he is also strong at applying pressure and clearing the ball. This formation would also allow the Portuguese coach to play him as a right back if needed.

5 Comments on “Maitland-Niles: where will he play under Mourinho?”

  1. Another foreigner? Yipppeee.

    Atta boy, Mou. When they kick you out these boys you brought in will be right behind you.

  2. @ F TOTTI

    I don’t think they hate foreigners – they just hate more rejects from other leagues coming in.

  3. I don’t think its people hating on foreigners. I think its people perhaps wanting alot less average players coming into the league and much more importantly, clubs REALLY need to start bringing through more homegrown youth into their respective senior teams.

    There’s a seriously shallow talent pool on display in Serie A and it shows in various ways. If clubs aren’t willing to commit to giving their Italian youth more opportunities, then at least look to promising players that are doing well in Serie B rather than always going down the path of a foreign player.

    How else is Italy supposed to progress on the World and European stage when we don’t have a vast pool of players to choose from?!

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