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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Who will be on the move in January?

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Serie A: Mourinho frustrated as Roma slip to defeat at Milan

Jose Mourinho was left gesticulating in apparent disapproval after two errors from his Roma players handed AC Milan a 3-1 win in Serie A on Thursday.

First, striker Tammy Abraham stuck out his arm to block a shot that resulted in a penalty for Milan, then defender Roger Ibaez made an errant back pass that was intercepted by Olivier Giroud, which led to the hosts’ second goal just 17 minutes in.

Giroud converted the penalty and Junior Messias scored Milan’s second on a rebound after Giroud’s effort hit the post.

AC Milan players celebrate Olivier Giroud's goal against Roma
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AC Milan players celebrate Olivier Giroud’s goal against Roma

Abraham then pulled one back for Roma via a deflection but Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan maintained the Rossoneri’s advantage with a series of fine saves.

Milan also hit the woodwork twice, while Roma finished with nine men when Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini each picked up their second yellow cards, which will mean they’ll be suspended for Sunday’s game against Juventus.

With Roma down to 10 men, Rafael Leo restored Milan’s two-goal advantage after being set up with a chested pass from fellow substitute Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had a penalty attempt saved by Rui Patricio.

The win moved Milan within one point of Serie A leaders Inter Milan, whose game at Bologna was postponed after the hosts were ordered into quarantine.

Four games postponed

AC Milan’s match against Roma at the San Siro was one of only six of 10 matches played following a two-week break, with four games, including Inter’s trip to Bologna, scrapped because of rising coronavirus cases.

The other games affected were Atalanta vs Torino, Salernitana vs Venezia and Fiorentina vs Udinese.

Napoli battle to Juve draw

Dries Mertens (R) opened the scoring for Napoli at Juventus
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Dries Mertens (R) opened the scoring for Napoli at Juventus

Virus-depleted Napoli drew 1-1 at Juventus, despite missing five players plus coach Luciano Spalletti, who also tested positive for Covid.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring for Napoli before Federico Chiesa equalised for the hosts.

The draw sees third-place Napoli drop five points behind Milan while Juventus, who had captain Giorgio Chiellini sidelined because of a positive coronavirus test, remain fifth.

Elsewhere…

Hellas Verona won 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spezia, despite missing eight players who had tested positive for Covid.

Gianluca Caprari scored twice for Verona before Martin Erlic pulled one back for Spezia.

Also, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored twice, including a stoppage-time equalizer for Lazio in a 3-3 draw with Empoli.

Ciro Immobile opened the scoring for Lazio with his 14th of the season but also had a late penalty kick saved.

Sassuolo earned a 1-1 draw with Genoa as Domenico Berardi responded to Mattia Destros opener.

Finally, Cagliari earned their second win of the season by beating Sampdoria 2-1 with goals from Alessandro Deiola and Leonardo Pavoletti.

Notebook: Morata set for Juve stay | Maitland-Niles close to Roma

Alvaro Morata is set to stay on loan at Juventus amid interest from Barcelona, according to Sky in Italy.

The Spain striker, manager Max Allegri and officials from the club held talks following persistent rumours of Barcelona preparing to make an offer to Morata’s parent club Atletico Madrid.

The player will not leave Juventus this month and he has shown that he is 100 per cent focused on his work in Turin.

Juve have yet to decide whether they will take up the £29m (€35m) option to sign Morata permanently, and it will depend on how he performs in the latter half of the season.

Barcelona are currently very active in the transfer market after receiving a sizeable bank loan. They have already committed more than €60m to Ferran Torres from Manchester City.

Alvaro Morata of Juventus
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Alvaro Morata has been intrigued by the potential of a move to Barcelona but Juventus are working to keep him

Meanwhile, Juventus are also interested in signing Mauro Icardi on loan from Paris Saint-Germain – but a deal is not certain due to his injury problems.

Juve are not optimistic of a deal for Antonio Rudiger on a free this summer due to the volume of other big clubs courting the Germany centre-back.

Sky Sports News revealed on Monday PSG, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are all in talks with the Chelsea defender over a pre-contract agreement.

Maitland-Niles close to finalising Roma loan deal

Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles is close to finalising a loan move to Roma – a story that has been worked on by Sky Sports News reporters Dharmesh Sheth, Lyall Thomas and Gary Cotterill.

The 24-year-old could potentially travel to the Italian capital as early as Wednesday to finalise a move to the Serie A side.

Maitland-Niles’ personal terms are not expected to be a problem for the Giallorossi but any deal would not include an option to buy.

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.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles
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Ainsley Maitland-Niles is close to joining Jose Mourinho at Roma in Italy

Ramsey could return to Premier League

Another familiar Arsenal face, albeit one who left the club in 2018, could return to the Premier League in January according to Sky Italia transfer supremo Gianluca Di Marzio.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: “Aaron Ramsey may come back to the Premier League. He had an official proposal from Burnley to sign for them, but he said no.

“He wants to play for a more ambitious team, Newcastle have asked for him too before Christmas. We’ll see whether anyone can sign him in January.”

Tuanzebe heading for Napoli on loan

Di Marzio also told Sky Sports News Aston Villa loanee Axel Tuanzebe’s stay at Villa Park will be cut short and the Manchester United defender sent to Napoli for the rest of the season.

Steven Gerrard made no secret of his hopes to keep the England U21 international in Birmingham but Di Marzio said Napoli will pay United €400,000 to take him to Serie A for the second half of the campaign, €400,000 if the club reach the Champions League and another €200,000 if he plays 10 matches in the Italian top flight.

Saints keen on Man City duo

Southampton are interested in Manchester City youngsters James Macatee and Liam Delap, writes Jaydee Dyer.

The Etihad academy duo fit the Saints’ philosophy of signing young players that can contribute right away.

Macatee is a 19-year-old attacking-midfielder and England U20 international who came off the bench against Everton this season and was on the bench for three Champions League games.

The 18-year-old Delap, meanwhile, made a Premier League appearance for City last season and is also an England youth international at U18 level.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl signed a number of players from top Premier League academies in the summer including Tino Livramento and Armando Broja from Chelsea, and is very happy with their impacts so far.

Saints are also continuing talks with goalkeeper Willy Caballero over extending his stay beyond January 5 – but no agreement has yet been reached.

Brereton Diaz set for Blackburn stay

Blackburn Rovers do not want to sell top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz despite huge interest in the player, writes Alan Myers.

Sky Sports News understands Rovers owners Venkys want to keep the current squad, who are currently in the automatic promotion places in the Championship, intact and are looking to continue to support manager Tony Mowbray in his quest to return the club to the top flight.

Brereton, who has scored 20 league goals already this season, has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs including Leeds and Newcastle.

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Blackburn want to keep highly-coveted goalscorer Ben Brereton Diaz

Mowbray has said recently he would not stand in the player’s way in the future if the right deal came in but – together with the owners’ stance – a January move for the Chile striker looks unlikely.

Brereton has six months left on his current contract but the club have the option of a further 12 months.

Villa striker Wesley wants Brazil return

Aston Villa striker Wesley Moraes has asked for his loan at Belgian side Club Brugge to be cut short so that he can instead head back to his native Brazil, according to Rob Dorsett.

Wesley joined Villa from Brugge in the summer of 2019 and Villa were keen for the £22m signing to get some game time in familiar surroundings, but he has played less than half an hour of football in just two Champions League appearances so far this season.

Now it looks likely his season-long loan in Belgium will be cancelled so he can instead discuss a possible loan deal with either Internacional or Sao Paulo.

Leeds to add young Spaniard to U23 squad

Espanyol’s Mateo Joseph Fernandez is undergoing a medical at Leeds, writes Tim Thornton.

He is an 18-year-old, very highly-rated striker and Leeds have beaten off some stiff competition to get him. He will initially go into their U23s squad.

Cherries veteran Cook makes Forest switch

Nottingham Forest have signed Bournemouth defender Steve Cook, reports Mark McAdam.

A medical and paperwork for a two-and-a-half-year deal were completed on Tuesday. The 30-year-old was Bournemouth’s longest-serving player and due a testimonial this summer, which Bournemouth are still honouring.

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

Maitland-Niles closing in on Roma move

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is close to reaching an agreement to join Roma on loan from Arsenal for the remainder of the season.

Roma need reinforcements in the full-back positions in Jose Mourinho’s squad but have not budgeted to spend large amounts of money in the January transfer window, so the Serie A club are exploring the loan market.

Maitland-Niles, 24, has made eight Premier League appearances for Arsenal this season, but has not featured for the Gunners since November.

The feeling at Roma is Mourinho will be able to help Maitland-Niles rediscover his best form, as has happened with Tammy Abraham, who joined in the summer from Chelsea and has scored 12 times in 25 games in all competitions since arriving at the Stadio Olimpico.


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The utility player, who can operate across midfield or in both full-back positions, wanted to join Everton in the summer having spent the second half of last term on loan at West Brom.

During the summer transfer window, Maitland-Niles made a plea on social media for a move, but the Gunners opted against sanctioning a departure and he ended up agreeing to stay on until January.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s 5-0 win at Norwich in the Premier League

Writing on Instagram in August, he said: “All I want to do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m going to play.”

A graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, Maitland-Niles has registered 132 appearances for the club and won three FA Cups over the course of his career at the Emirates Stadium. His Arsenal contract expires in 2023.

Meanwhile, speculation is continuing to mount over the futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, whose contracts expire in the summer, while Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang was recently stripped of the captaincy following a disciplinary breach.

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The Soccer Special panel get into a heated debate over the future of Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah, with the 22-year-old set to be out of contract in the summer

Arteta wants to clear ‘cloud’ hanging over Arsenal strikers

Mikel Arteta has revealed he is trying to resolve what he sees as a “cloud” of varying issues hanging over his Arsenal forward options.

The Arsenal manager said: “We have a cloud and the cloud is there. At the moment we’re not able to change it.

“We’re working on it to try to make it as small as possible and as clear as possible but it’s the situation we are in because contracts have details, the timing of them is tricky and we are trying to resolve it.

“It depends on every single case, depends on the player’s situation, the minutes he’s playing, his willingness or the [contract] offer that you have, but it’s something that you have to consider.”

Euro round-up: Atletico stunned by Granada, Napoli shocked

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone faced increased pressure after the La Liga champions slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat by Granada on Wednesday.

With Atletico having lost four successive league matches for the first time since Simeone took charge in 2011, the Argentinian’s role has come under scrutiny from club supporters and Spanish media.

It took less than two minutes for Joao Felix to fire Atletico ahead with a perfect low shot from the edge of the box, with the goal demonstrating why the fans had been urging Simeone to play the Portuguese striker from the start more often.

But Granada equalised 15 minutes later with a stupendous long shot from Darwin Machis.

Felix desperately tried to score a second goal but he was frustrated by an equally determined Granada, who found the winner midway through the second half thanks to Jorge Molina.

Granada survived a frenzied final 20 minutes during which Atletico desperately tried to score an equaliser without success. It was Granada’s first win against Atletico since 1973, ending a 25-game winless streak.

Simeone’s judgment is being questioned as Atletico’s usually rock-solid defence has now leaked in 22 goals in 18 games this season, with the champions keeping only five clean sheets in La Liga during that time. In contrast, they had conceded only eight goals at the same stage last season.

Atletico sit fifth in the standings with 29 points after 18 games, 17 points behind Real Madrid.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal Athletic Bilbao
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Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema scored two goals in the opening seven minutes to send leaders Real Madrid eight points clear at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao.

Real, who were missing eight players due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the club, stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches in all competitions.

Benzema broke the 400-goal mark in his professional career with a stunning strike from just outside the box in the fourth minute before adding another just three minutes later when an Athletic defender missed a clearance.

Oihan Sancet stopped Real’s momentum with a sensational goal in the 10th minute. The hosts put up a fight but Real held on to secure all three points.

Serie A – Napoli stunned by Spezia

Spezia celebrate after Juan Jesus' own goal saw them ahead against Napoli
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Spezia celebrate after Juan Jesus’ own goal saw them ahead against Napoli

Third-place Napoli dropped seven points behind Serie A leaders Inter after losing 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Spezia, who benefited from an own-goal from Napoli defender Juan Jesus.

Napoli were missing captain Lorenzo Insigne, who tested positive for Covid-19, while Spezia did not produce a single shot on goal.

Inter Milan concluded the year with a 1-0 win over Torino to remain top of the league heading into the winter break

Denzel Dumfries scored from the edge of the area, finishing a counter-attack after taking a backheel pass from Edin Dzeko during the first half at the San Siro. It was the third goal in four matches for the Netherlands right-back.

AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie played a starring role by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Empoli, leaving the Rossoneri second in Serie A at the midway stage of the season.

The Ivory Coast international was deployed in a more advanced attacking midfield position, and excelled in the role by striking twice before half-time, either side of Nedim Bajrami’s goal for Empoli.

Franck Kessie was the star for AC Milan as they beat Empoli
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Franck Kessie was the star for AC Milan as they beat Empoli

An Alessandro Florenzi free-kick and a Theo Hernandez goal extended the visitors’ lead, before Andrea Pinamonti pulled one back for the hosts from the penalty spot.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored 10 minutes from time to secure a 1-1 draw for Sampdoria at Roma.

Eldor Shomurodov had put Roma ahead eight minutes earlier. Gabbiadini then scored from close range following a corner.

Roma are level on points with seventh-place Fiorentina, who drew 1-1 at Hellas Verona. Gaetano Castrovilli equalised for the Viola with a diving header following an opener from Kevin Lasagna.

Lazio won 3-1 at Venezia despite missing striker Ciro Immobile, who has coronavirus. Pedro, Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto scored for the Roman club.

Also, Bologna won 3-0 at Sassuolo with goals from Riccardo Orsolini, Aaron Hickey and Federico Santander. It was the fourth goal this season for Scottish midfielder Hickey.

Ligue 1 – Ramos sent off as PSG salvage draw

Sergio Ramos was sent off for PSG
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Sergio Ramos was sent off for PSG

Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time strike helped 10-man Paris Saint-Germain salvage a fortunate 1-1 draw at lowly Lorient in a dismal performance.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who had Sergio Ramos sent off, have 46 points from 19 games with Nice in second place 13 points behind after a 2-1 comeback win at home against RC Lens.

Third-placed Marseille, who have a game in hand, trail Nice on goal difference after being caught cold at the Velodrome in a 1-1 draw against Reims, Dimitri Payet salvaging a point with a penalty eight minutes into injury-time.

Rennes are fourth on 31 points after a 2-1 defeat at Monaco.

Elsewhere, Montpellier consolidated their fifth place with a convincing 4-1 home victory against mid-table Angers and champions Lille moved up to eighth when Jonathan David’s late goal gave them a 3-2 victory at Bordeaux.

The game between Clermont and Racing Strasbourg was postponed because of foggy conditions.