Southampton are reportedly closing in on the loan signing of Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The 25-year-old is now deemed surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners willing to offload the Englishman before the transfer window closes on Thursday night.
The likes of West Ham United, Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Newcastle United have previously been linked with Maitland-Niles, but Southampton seem to have won the race for his signature.
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Saints are closing in on signing the versatile midfielder on an initial season-long loan deal with an option to buy.
Maitland-Niles’s current contract at the Emirates expires in the summer of 2023, but Romano adds that Arsenal are expected to extend his deal before agreeing to loan him to Southampton with the option to buy.
Talks are ongoing between the player’s representatives and both clubs, and a medical will be scheduled as soon as all parties reach an agreement.
Maitland-Niles joined Arsenal’s academy at the age of six and worked his way through the youth ranks before making his professional debut in December 2014.
The London-born midfielder has since made a total of 132 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, winning three FA Cups and two Community Shield, but his game time has been limited since the appointment of Mikel Arteta in 2019.
Maitland-Niles was a squad-rotation player during Arteta’s first season in charge and he predominantly operated as a full-back, starting 23 of his 33 first-team appearances.
However, the Englishman fell down the pecking order in the 2020-21 campaign and was eventually loaned out to West Bromwich Albion for the second half of the season, making 15 appearances as a central midfielder.
A similar scenario occurred the following campaign, as Maitland-Niles struggled for game time at the Emirates, starting just twice in the Premier League, before joining Jose Mourinho‘s Roma for the second half of the 2021-22 season.
Maitland-Niles endured a difficult spell in Italy, though, as he failed to score or provide an assist in 12 games across all tournaments, and he was also named as an unused substitute on 10 occasions.
The midfielder is now believed to be seeking a fresh challenge elsewhere and Southampton are seemingly set to provide him with the chance to gain regular first-team football.
Meanwhile, Southampton have reportedly reached an agreement with Manchester City to sign academy starlets Sam Edozie, 19, and Juan Larios, 18, on permanent deals.
Romano claims that both players are set to complete their moves to St Mary’s in the “next hours”, and Man City will have buy-back clauses included in the deals for both players.
Southampton have already recruited two City prospects this summer, with Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia joining the club earlier in the summer, the latter of whom scored his first goal for the club in the 2-1 Premier League win over Chelsea on Tuesday.