Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has claimed Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles has “a lot to do” to get into the team.
Maitland-Niles joined Southampton for a season on transfer deadline day, making his debut for his temporary club as a substitute against Wolves.
However, the 25-year-old was left out of the matchday squad for the Aston Villa defeat, with Hasenhuttl declaring that Maitland-Niles needs to improve off the ball.
As reported by The Sun, Hasenhuttl said: “We have a lot to do with Ainsley, also because he has to adapt to our game and that takes some time.
“We also see what we ask of him during the week and especially in midfield it takes a little bit to understand how we want to do it.
“There’s no point in throwing someone in who isn’t ready for what we’re going to do. If he’s ready and at the level we think he needs to be, I’m sure he’ll help us.’
Hasenhuttl added that he will do his utmost to help Maitland-Niles develop his all-around game.
He said: “I think he’s a very good player on the ball but he has to learn that when the ball isn’t with us, our game starts.
“I think that was something he never had to do at the clubs he played.
“But now it’s modern football, it’s a very important part, you can see he still has to learn that, so we invest our time to make it better.
“He’s not the speaker if you want, he takes responsibility on the pitch when he has the ball, definitely, he wants to show his qualities there.
“But I think to have a big impact on football in the future he needs to add some parts to his game that he hasn’t had before and we will help him with that.”
Maitland-Niles has made over 100 appearances for Arsenal after graduating from the academy, earning five caps for England in 2020.
Since then, however, he has struggled for consistency and failed to fully assert himself during a loan spell at Roma in the second half of last season.
Maitland-Niles’ versatility is one of his key assets but has also had a negative impact on his progression as he has not been able to cement a regular starting spot at one position.
Although he prefers to play as a central midfielder, Maitland-Niles is also capable of playing at both full-back positions and was a winger in his youth.
Arsenal reportedly extended Maitland-Niles’ contract by a year when he joined Southampton, with his previous contract due to expire next summer. However, it seems he still has a lot to develop if he is to earn a permanent move to St. Mary’s.