Arsene Wenger hints Ainsley Maitland-Niles is the man to replace Francis Coquelin
Maitland-Niles was among the standout performers at Stamford Bridge and managed to keep the likes of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata at bay in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
The versatile youngster came through the ranks in a more advanced position, though, and could be the man to replace Francis Coquelin in Arsenal’s midfield.
Coquelin is on the cusp of a move to Valencia and Wenger confirmed that the Frenchman has played his last match for the Gunners.
Speaking after the goalless draw, he said: ‘He goes to Valencia.
‘He didn’t get enough games with us this season. He had an opportunity and I let him go.’
Wenger suggested that Maitland-Niles will be played in midfield once Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolisanic return to full fitness.
‘First of all the best way to replace him now is to get Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back. After that, we see,’ Wenger told Standard Sport.
‘I think Maitland-Niles had an outstanding performance tonight. He’s a defensive midfielder basically, what he’s doing at the moment will help him as well to develop as a player because he plays in a different position.
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‘But at some stage, I’ll play him in there because we have Monreal injured, Kolasinac injured. They will come back.
‘There will be an opening for him in midfield.’