Euro round-up: Barca snatch last-gasp draw, Dortmund close gap

A 96th minute header from substitute Luuk De Jong saw Barcelona rescue a 2-2 draw away at city rivals Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.

Both sides had a man sent off in the closing stages, with Espanyol looking set for a first league victory over Barca in 16 years before De Jong turned in Adama Traore’s cross to salvage a point.

Xavi Hernandez’s side moved back into the fourth and final Champions League spot as a result, level on 39 points with Atletico Madrid.

Pedri shows his dejection against Espanyol
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Pedri shows his dejection against Espanyol

It had looked like Barca would be in for a comfortable evening when they took the lead inside the first two minutes, Pedri turning in Jordi Alba’s cross from close range.

Ferran Torres and Traore both went close for the visitors but they were pegged back on the stroke of halftime as Sergi Darder curled an effort in from the edge of the box after good work from Raul de Tomas.

Darder then returned the favour as he sent De Tomas away over the top for a goal that looked to have won the game for the hosts.

Tempers flared late on as Gerard Pique and Nico Melamed both saw red following a coming together off the ball before De Jong’s late effort saw the spoils shared.

Serie A: AC Milan go top, Roma lose more ground

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 13: Rafael Leao of AC Milan slides in to join Mike Maignan and team mates after scoring to give the side a 1-0 lead during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 13, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)
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Rafael Leao celebrates scoring AC Milan’s winner against Sampdoria

AC Milan surged to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria that moved them a point above Inter Milan. Goalkeeper Mike Maignan set up Rafael Leao’s winning goal in the eighth minute.

The France international sent a long kick from outside his penalty area to feed Leo who controlled the ball on the left flank before moving past defender Bartosz Bereszynski to beat Sampdoria goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone.

It was the 10th goal of the season for the Portugal forward in his 100th appearance for the Rossoneri. Striker Olivier Giroud, who scored both goals in the game against Inter, had his second-half header from close range fingertipped over by Falcone.

AC Milan top the table with 55 points, one clear of Inter in second with Napoli another point back after they shared a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Inter, however, still have a game in hand.

Meanwhile, Bryan Cristante scored a 94th-minute equaliser to rescue a 2-2 Serie A draw for AS Roma at Sassuolo on Sunday, as Jose Mourinho’s side lost more ground in the race for European qualification.

Another league stalemate leaves them seventh with 40 points, two behind Lazio and five behind Juventus in fourth, who are playing later.

“If you had asked me at the start, I would not have wanted a draw, but in the 90th minute, definitely,” Mourinho told DAZN.

Bryan Cristante celebrates after making it 2-2
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Bryan Cristante celebrates after making it 2-2

“I can compare this match to defeats we had earlier in the season against Verona, Venezia and Bologna. We had chances to draw those games and could have had three points more with three draws.

“It isn’t the result we wanted, but if nothing else we haven’t lost in the last four in Serie A, we have got eight points.”

A Tammy Abraham penalty gave the capital club the lead at the end of the first half, but a mistake from goalkeeper Rui Patricio led to a Chris Smalling own goal for the equaliser, before Hamed Traore completed the turnaround with a well-taken strike.

However, Sassuolo defender Gian Marco Ferrari picked up a second yellow card with 12 minutes remaining and Roma capitalised deep in stoppage time through a Cristante header.

Danilo scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a 1-1 Serie A draw for Juventus at Atalanta and earn a point that could prove crucial to the Bianconeri’s top-four ambitions.

Dusan Vlahovic reacts to a missed chance
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Dusan Vlahovic reacts to a missed chance

The Brazil international headed in from a corner in the 92nd minute, cancelling out a long-range thunderbolt from Ruslan Malinovskyi that had put Atalanta on the verge of reclaiming fourth place.

Both sides had their chances in a gripping encounter in Bergamo, as Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello denied Dusan Vlahovic with a superb save and Hans Hateboer hit the bar for the hosts.

Juve remain fourth on 46 points, two ahead of Atalanta, but Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have a game in hand.

Elsewhere, bottom two Genoa and Salernitana played out a 1-1 draw that did little to help either side hopes of survival, leaving them six and nine points adrift of the safety zone respectively.

Cagliari earned a 1-1 draw at Empoli that took the 18th-placed Sardinians level with Venezia above them on 21 points, while midtable Hellas Verona hammered Udinese 4-0.

Bundesliga: Dortmund cuts Bayern’s lead to six points

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund

Marco Reus scored twice to lead Borussia Dortmund to a 3-0 win at Union Berlin and cut Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga lead to six points.

It also went some way to answering mounting criticism after Dortmund’s 5-2 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen the previous Sunday, which had allowed Bayern to pull nine points clear.

But the leader’s surprise 4-2 loss at promoted Bochum on Saturday gave Dortmund added incentive to claim its first league win at Union at the third attempt.

Reus opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Mahmoud Dahoud played him in to shoot low through Andreas Luthe’s legs.

Reus scored again seven minutes later when Donyell Malen held off Robin Knoche and Bastian Oczipka to play him through. The Dortmund captain rounded the Union goalkeeper before finishing from a narrow angle.

Raphael Guerreiro scored the visitors’ third from close range in the 71st minute.

Dortmund won without injured forward Erling Haaland due to muscular problems and the club said Gio Reyna did not play because of illness, one game after the United States midfielder returned from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him for five months.

Hoffenheim jumped to fifth by beating relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld 2-0 in the late game.

Ligue 1: Marseille consolidate second place

Arkadiusz Milik netted a spectacular overhead kick goal to hand Marseille a late 2-1 away win at struggling Metz on Sunday as they consolidated second place in Ligue 1.

Milik was a surprise omission from the starting line-up but wasted no time after coming on to deliver a spectacular finish, receiving the ball on his chest with his back to goal and scoring a stunning winner eight minutes from time.

New signing Cedric Bakambu put Marseille ahead after 26 minutes as they moved onto 46 points, 13 behind runaway leaders Paris St Germain.

Marseille are now four ahead of third-placed Nice, who lost at Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday.

Defeat for Metz leaves them second from bottom.

Europe: Giroud double settles Milan derby

Olivier Giroud again showed why he can never be written off, scoring two late goals as AC Milan rallied to beat rivals Inter Milan 2-1 and reignite the Serie A title race.

Milan moved one point behind the defending champions and leaders with victory, although Inter have played one game fewer.

Midfielder Ivan Perisic put Inter ahead when he volleyed in from just inside the penalty area in the 39th minute from a corner.

Simone Inzaghi’s side looked in comfortable control until Giroud – France’s second all-time leading scorer with 46 goals – equalised 15 minutes from time.

Four minutes later, Giroud produced a superb flick with his right foot to spin around his marker inside the area, before curling the ball under the body of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic with his left.

He jumped into the arms of coach Stefano Pioli after the final whistle, his name written alongside other match-winners at the Derby della Madonnina.

Milan finished with 10 players after left-back Theo Hernandez was sent off in the fifth minute of injury time, and Inter coach Simone Inzaghi will have regrets.

His side could have been well ahead, but Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan showed just why he is pushing to become France’s No 1 at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

He made a fine reflex save to keep out Marcelo Brozovic’s deflected 20-yard shot, then another stop from Denzel Dumfries’ low strike.

After Handanovic launched himself to the left to keep out Sandro Tonali’s thunderous strike from 25 metres out 10 minutes before half-time, Maignan thwarted Lautaro Martinez at the other end.

Ivan Perisic had earlier given Inter the lead at the San Siro
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Ivan Perisic had earlier given Inter the lead at the San Siro

He was beaten when Perisic put the ball beyond his reach from former Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu’s corner.

But after Calhanoglu latched onto Brozovic’s superb pass in first-half injury time, as Inter again attacked down the left flank, Maignan showed brilliant judgment to rush off his line and make a sliding tackle.

Elsewhere, Fiorentina hosted Lazio with both sides sitting on the same points tally and needing a win to level with sixth-place Roma, who had earlier drawn 0-0 at home to struggling Genoa.

Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo wheeled away in delight and tore off his shirt after drilling in a last-minute shot, but then was sent off for protesting to referee Rosario Abisso after his effort was disallowed following a VAR review. It showed a clear foul by Roma striker Tammy Abraham on a defender moments before the goal.

Genoa had defender Leo Ostigard sent off in the 68th minute for grabbing forward Felix Afena-Gyan around the neck and dragging him down.

Bundesliga: Lewandowski back in goals as Bayern extend lead

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig

Robert Lewandowski ended his one-game scoring drought as his 24th goal in 21 games helped Bayern Munich stretch their Bundesliga lead to nine points with a 3-2 win over visiting RB Leipzig.

The prolific Lewandowski, who hadn’t scored in the 4-1 win at Hertha Berlin before the international break, met Kingsley Coman’s precise cross with a thumping header to give Bayern a 2-1 lead over Leipzig before the break.

Thomas Muller opened the scoring in the 12th minute, finishing off the rebound after Peter Gulacsi saved Lewandowski’s initial effort.

Andre Silva equalised shortly before the half-hour mark, squeezing the ball over the line after good work from Konrad Laimer and Christopher Nkunku.

Robert Lewandowski returned to the goals as he eyes another record-breaking season
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Robert Lewandowski returned to the goals as he eyes another record-breaking season

Muller had a goal ruled out through VAR for a foul by Lewandowski in the build=up, but Lewandowski atoned by restoring Bayern’s lead a minute before the interval.

Laimer set up Nkunku for antoher equaliser in the 53rd minute with a brilliant through ball on the left. Nkunku stayed cool before shooting through Manuel Neuer’s legs.

Bayern answered again soon after though, when Josko Gvardiol deflected Serge Gnabry’s cross into his own net.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s dismal spell continued with a 1-1 draw at Arminia Bielefeld.

Gladbach at least ended their three-game losing run across all competitions, but coach Adi Hutter remains under pressure with the team just two points above the relegation zone. Bielefeld stretched their unbeaten streak to six games.

Janni Serra opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he eluded three Gladbach defenders and let fly inside the left corner.

The home team were by far the better side until Alassane Plea equalized with a diving header to Jonas Hofmann’s lay-off in the 38th minute.

Bielefeld also pushed hard in the second half, with visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer rescuing Gladbach twice.

But Gladbach might have grabbed a late winner, with Hofmann in particular failing to make more of some good counterattacking opportunities.

Union Berlin remained fourth despite losing 2-0 at Augsburg in their first game since top scorer Max Kruse the club. Augsburg climbed out of the relegation zone with the win.

Freiburg remained fifth despite a 1-0 defeat in Cologne. Cologne were without coach Steffen Baumgart due to COVID-19, but welcomed back 10,000 fans.

Ajdin Hrustic’s second goal proved to be the winner for Eintracht Frankfurt which won 3-2 at Stuttgart, and Mainz beat visiting Hoffenheim 2-0.

La Liga: Sevilla miss chance to close gap on Real

Anthony Martial made his debut for Sevilla but his new side missed the chance to close the gap on La Liga leaders Real Madrid when they were held to a goalless draw with Osasuna, for whom goalkeeper Sergio Herrera saved a penalty.

Attacking midfielder Brais Mendez scored both goals in Celta Vigo‘s 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano and Pere Milla netted twice in Elche’s 3-1 win over Alaves, while Mallorca came from behind to beat Cadiz 2-1.

Ligue 1: Saint-Etienne off bottom with Montpellier win

Saint-Etienne lifted themselves off the foot of Ligue 1 with a shock 3-1 win over Montpellier.

Teenager Ely Wahi put the visitors in front after 11 minutes and the lead lasted until eight minutes from time when the game took a dramatic turn.

Romain Hamouma equalised, Arnaud Nordin put the home side in front for the first time on the stroke of 90 minutes and Wahbi Khazri added a third in stoppage time to complete the transformation.

In the other game, Monaco were 2-0 winners over Lyon.

Euro: Real Madrid fight back for Elche draw

Real Madrid scored twice in the final 10 minutes to avoid an embarrassing LaLiga home defeat to Elche.

The Valencians were on course for a memorable win at the Bernabeu as they led 2-0 after 82 minutes, with goals from Lucas Boye and Pere Milla.

But Luka Modric got his side back in it from the spot and then Eder Militao made it 2-2 in the second minute of time added on as Carlo Ancellotti’s men extended their lead at the summit to four points.

Barcelona also needed late action as Frenkie De Jong’s 87th-minute strike earned a 1-0 win at Alaves.

Xavi’s side dominated the match but looked like being held until the Dutchman converted from close range near the end.

Serie A – Napoli close gap on Inter

Napoli were emphatic winners in Serie A
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Napoli were emphatic winners in Serie A

Napoli kept pace with Serie A leaders Inter Milan after thrashing lowly local rivals Salernitana 4-1, recording their third league victory in a row.

The hosts started brightly and raced into a 17th-minute lead through Juan Jesus, the defender’s goal given after a VAR intervention, with the on-field referee having originally ruled it out for handball.

Against the run of play, with their only shot at goal in the match, Salernitana levelled through Federico Bonazzoli in the 33rd minute.

That was only a brief reprieve for the visitors from across the Gulf of Naples, however, as Dries Mertens put Napoli back in front from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time before Amir Rahmani tapped home four minutes after the break to make it 3-1.

Salernitana’s afternoon went from bad to worse moments later as Frederic Veseli was sent off for picking up a second yellow card when penalised for handball in the penalty area.

Substitute Lorenzo Insigne scored from the spot to seal a comfortable victory for Napoli who climbed to second on 49 points, one clear of AC Milan, who play Juventus later on Sunday, and four adrift of leaders Inter.

Roma secured a 4-2 victory at Empoli thanks to four goals in 13 first-half minutes, including a double from England striker Tammy Abraham.

The hosts started brightly and created several early openings, but they fell apart after Abraham’s swift turn and shot broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.

Abraham squeezed the ball home in the 33rd minute from close range to double his side’s lead, before January signing Sergio Oliveira scored his second goal since joining on loan from Porto two minutes later to put Roma in command.

Jose Mourinho’s team were not done there, as they added another in the 37th minute, with Nicolo Zaniolo converting at the end of a swift counter-attack from the visitors.

In cruise control, Roma were given a fright in the second half as goals from Andrea Pinamonti and Nedim Bajrami put Empoli in with a chance of an improbable comeback, but Mourinho’s side held on for the three points.

Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Cagliari while Torino and Sassuolo also played out a 1-1 draw. Spezia were 1-0 winners against Sampdoria.

Bundesliga – Bayern restore lead at the top

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich cruised to 4-1 victory at Hertha Berlin, scoring twice in each half, to stay firmly in control of the title race and restore their six-point lead at the top.

Corentin Tolisso, who had seen a superb volley ruled as offside in the second minute, did everything right in the 25th, connecting with a Kingsley Coman cross to head the champions into the lead.

Thomas Muller doubled it on the stroke of half-time, stretching to flick in a Joshua Kimmich free-kick as Bayern cruised towards their seventh league win from their last eight matches.

Leroy Sane scored for Bayern Munich in their Bundesliga win
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Leroy Sane scored for Bayern Munich in their Bundesliga win

A mistake by Hertha ‘keeper Alexander Schwolow allowed Leroy Sane to slip in and score Bayern’s third goal of the afternoon in the 75th minute and Serge Gnabry made it 4-0 four minutes later, cutting in from the right to slip the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs.

The hosts, who have won just one of their last five league matches and remained in 13th place, got a consolation goal through Jurgen Ekkelenkamp 10 minutes from the end.

Bayern, who have now scored at least once in a record 67 consecutive Bundesliga matches, are on 49 points, six ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who beat Hoffenheim 3-2 on Saturday.

RB Leipzig’s recovery in the Bundesliga continued with a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg, marking their third victory in a row.

Ligue 1 – PSG preserve 11-point lead

Paris Saint-Germain enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 victory over Reims to maintain an 11-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Goals from Marco Verratti, Sergio Ramos and Danilo Pereira and a Wout Faes own goal made it plain sailing for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Nice reclaimed second spot with a 2-0 win over Metz, with second-half goals from Khephren Thuram and Amine Gouiri.

Strasbourg were beaten 4-3 in a thrilling game with Bordeaux, while Nantes beat Lorient 4-2.

Euro round-up: Real claim Super Cup title

Real Madrid were crowned Spanish Super Cup champions after goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema earned them a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia.

Real took the lead in the 38th minute at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh after Rodrygo sprinted past two defenders before passing to Modric, who rifled a shot into the back of the net.

Benzema extended their lead in the second half with a penalty after the video assistant referee spotted a handball from Yeray Alvarez inside the area.

Real were reduced to 10 men three minutes from time after Eder Militao was sent off for a goalline handball.

Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois brilliantly stopped Raul Garcia’s penalty kick with his left foot in the dying seconds.

Serie A: Sergio Oliveira scores debut winner

Sergio Oliveira scored a penalty on his AS Roma debut as Jose Mourinho’s side ended a three-match winless run by beating relegation battling Cagliari 1-0 in Serie A on Sunday.

Portuguese midfielder Oliveira, who joined the capital club on loan from Porto on Wednesday, calmly converted a spot-kick in the 32nd minute following a Dalbert handball.

Jordan Veretout and Nicolo Zaniolo threatened a second for the hosts after the break, but the best chance fell to Cagliari when Joao Pedro’s close-range shot was pushed onto the bar by Rui Patricio five minutes from time.

It was Roma’s first win in almost a month, after picking up one point from three games, and took Mourinho’s side up to sixth place on 35 points, six behind Juventus in fifth.

Cagliari’s bid to avoid the drop was boosted by back-to-back wins at the start of the year, but they were without 11 players due to injuries, COVID-19 and Africa Cup of Nations duties for their trip to the capital, and defeat left them 18th with 16 points.

Elsewhere, Luis Nani got an assist two minutes into his debut for Venezia, coming off the bench to set up David Okereke’s equaliser in a 1-1 draw against midtable Empoli.

Antonin Barak scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Hellas Verona at Sassuolo that took Igor Tudor’s side above their hosts into the top half of the table.

Ligue 1: Rennes run riot; Ben Yedder scores twice in Monaco rout

Adrien Truffert is congratulated after scoring for Rennes
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Adrien Truffert is congratulated after scoring for Rennes at home to Bordeaux

Rennes bounced back in style from three straight defeats by routing struggling Bordeaux 6-0 at home to reclaim fourth place in the French league on Sunday.

Striker Gaetan Laborde and winger Martin Terrier each scored to reach 10 league goals apiece this season – as many as Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Terrier put Rennes ahead before captain Benjamin Bourigeaud netted just before the break. Laborde struck on the hour before Adrien Truffert scored in the 69th minute and fellow substitute Serhou Guirassy netted twice in the closing stages.

Philippe Clement’s first home game in charge of Monaco saw France striker Wissam Ben Yedder score twice in a 4-0 home win over Clermont. Monaco moved ahead of Lens on goal difference into fifth.

Strasbourg climbed into sixth after rallying to win 3-1 at home to Montpellier, who were seeking a fifth straight win.

Midfielder Florent Mollet gave Montpellier an early lead, but Strasbourg scored three times in the last 15 minutes through Majeed Waris, Adrien Thomasson and veteran striker Kevin Gameiro.

Later on Sunday, third-placed Marseille were hosting defending champions Lille, needing victory to move level on points with second-placed Nice. Mid-table Lyon won 1-0 at lowly Troyes.

Meanwhile, Metz moved away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Reims, and strugglers Lorient drew 0-0 at home to Angers.

Bundesliga: Frankfurt, Bielefeld held to draws

Eintracht Frankfurt celebrate scoring a goal
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Eintracht Frankfurt celebrate scoring a goal against Augsburg

Missing key players isolating with coronavirus, Eintracht Frankfurt‘s ambitions to fight for European qualification were dented on Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Augsburg.

With Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and winger Filip Kostic both unavailable after positive tests, an otherwise drab game was enlivened by two moments of individual skill for the goals.

Playmaker Daichi Kamada gave Frankfurt the lead in the 22nd minute when he ran onto a through ball and leaped over goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz before stretching to tap the ball into the net under pressure from a defender. Michael Gregoritsch leveled for Augsburg 16 minutes later with a fine finish from a tight angle.

Frankfurt were looking for a morale-boosting win after giving up a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Borussia Dortmund last week, but had to settle for a point which keeps the team in eighth. Just five points separate Bayer Leverkusen in third from Mainz in 10th.

Frankfurt’s winless start to the new year is a blow to a team that started the season poorly but recovered with wins in six of their last seven Bundesliga games of 2021 to get back into the fight for European qualification.

Augsburg produced one of the shocks of the season to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in November but have won only once in seven games since then and sit just above the relegation play-off spot, prompting concerns their 11-year stay in the top tier could be in jeopardy.

Elsewhere, Arminia Bielefeld climbed past Stuttgart to 16th with a 2-2 draw against last-place Greuther Furth. Gonzalo Castro rescued a point for Bielefeld with a goal in the 83rd minute as Furth neared what would have been only their second win since returning to the top tier.

Arsenal’s Maitland-Niles completes Roma loan move

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has completed a loan move to Roma from Arsenal until the end of the season.

The Arsenal academy graduate, whose contract expires in the summer of 2023, has started just two Premier League games this season but will hope he can kickstart his career under former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho in Italy, alongside former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.

“I am just delighted to be here and can’t wait to crack on. I want to help the team and show what I can do as a player,” England international Maitland-Niles said.

“Thank you to the fans for the support they have already shown me – I hope we can go on to do something great by the end of the season.”

Mourinho will be hoping the utility player, deployed at wing-back and central midfield, can make an impact after an inconsistent start to the season has left Roma seventh after 20 games, six points outside the top four.

What went wrong for Maitland-Niles at Arsenal?

Maitland-Niles began the season by publicly pleading for a transfer exit in the final days of the summer window after interest from Everton, writing on Instagram: “All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play.”

But after holding clear-the-air talks with manager Mikel Arteta it was decided the 24-year-old midfielder would stay until at least January and fight for his place in the team.

Maitland-Niles has since struggled for consistent game time this season – at full-back and in central midfield – and it has been decided he will leave on loan for a second consecutive season.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says Ainsley Maitland-Niles was attracted by a move to Roma to work with Jose Mourinho.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest, the Gunners manager said: “Ainsley came to me and explained reasons why he thought the best thing for his career is to move away and the opportunity in Rome and working under Jose (Mourinho) was good one.

“We already had this conversation in the summer and said to reassess in December. When a player has strong argument like he had, it’s very difficult to turn him away.

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Watch Ainsley Maitland-Niles arrive in the Italian capital ahead of completing his loan move to Roma

“We’re very shot at the moment, but this shouldn’t be the only reason for keeping a player. Ainsley has been developed and raised through our academy and was very patient in many moments in trying to fulfil his dream.

“He was very straight with me and I understood the situation. Obviously, we’re going to move and look for options as we’re very shot there.”

Last winter, he was recruited by Sam Allardyce to play for West Brom, who were eventually relegated.

Analysis: Arsenal left light in midfield

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

Maitland-Niles’ Premier League playing time this season amounts to just 265 minutes but Arsenal’s willingness to let him leave midway through the season is surprising nonetheless.

The Gunners are, after all, about to lose both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to Africa Cup on Nations duty, leaving Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga as their only senior options.

Maitland-Niles would surely have been useful during that period, especially given Arsenal’s hectic schedule, but instead they have granted him his wish for more regular playing time.

It may indicate Arsenal are preparing to bring in midfield reinforcements from elsewhere this month.

For Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, the question is whether he can make his long-desired transformation from versatile squad member to regular starter under the guidance of Jose Mourinho over in Italy.

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