‘The love for Arsenal never leaves you’ – Ainsley Maitland-Niles opens up on leaving dream club

Last summer brought an end to a 19-year stay at Arsenal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles (26) when the club decided against triggering the option to extend his contract for another year allowing for the midfielder to make the swap to France where he joined Olympique Lyonnais

It was a quiet end to a club he had joined as a five-year-old and one that he would be leaving as an England international and an FA Cup winner. An end more demonstrative of his increasingly reduced place in the squad and his recent years farmed out on loan to different sides. 

His last appearance for his boyhood club came in 2021 as a substitute in the 4-0 loss to Liverpool, and last season while he was on loan at Southampton, the midfielder revealed to The Athletic that his communication with Arsenal had dried up. 

It was no surprise then that he left in the summer at the end of his contract, the writing had been on the wall for some time that there was no place in the squad for the versatile midfielder. Despite this, he remains fiercely devoted to the London side, and in a recent interview with L’Équipe opened up on what it meant to play for the team he had supported since he was born. 

‘It was a dream come true’ – Ainsley Maitland-Niles on playing for Arsenal

It was a dream come true,” Maitland-Niles explains. “Arsenal is my father’s club, my brother’s club, I think that’s why I played there. I stayed at Arsenal for 19 years, with a few loans in the middle. It’s a special club. You have to be there to feel it. ‘Alex’ [Lacazette] could explain it to you. The love for Arsenal never leaves you.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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