Arteta found it "difficult" to meet Maitland-Niles request before loan move

Mikel Arteta concedes it was "difficult" to guarantee Ainsley Maitland-Niles the minutes he was seeking at Arsenal.

The versatile 23-year-old has headed out on loan to West Brom this month in an effort to further his development.

Maitland-Niles is on Gareth Southgate's radar and has been called up to the England squad this season.

As such the player wanted more game time to stake his case for this summer's European Championships, but Arteta wasn't sure he could oblige.

The Gunners boss accepts that Maitland-Niles wanted to leave for footballing reasons and found it hard to deny him a move away.

“Ainsley is a different phase of his development and is an England international,” said Arteta.

“He has played more games and he wanted to start games and he wanted that guarantee and, in my position, it was really difficult to do that.

“He was willing to experience something else and I decided to allow him to do that.

"He can play in different positions and might have the possibility to play in midfield which for him is important.

“When a player’s main will is not financial and it is to just to play football, then it is really difficult to stand in his way when you don’t feel that he will start many games.”

Maitland-Niles was linked with a move away in the summer as Wolves eyed his services with a £20m bid.

Arsenal ended up retaining the player however and he has gone on to make 21 appearances this term with 13 of those as a starter.

He will now assist in West Brom's survival bid before returning in the summer.

Arteta also allowed Joe Willock to leave on loan and head to Newcastle.

The youngster is also keen to get more minutes under his belt and the Arsenal boss will reassess his situation come the summer.

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