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Ainsley Maitland-Niles was one of the first names on the lips of new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery – and now the Gunners midfielder is likely to be working under the Spaniard for some time after signing a new long-term deal at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis led the panel that ultimately decided Emery was the correct man to replace the departing Arsene Wenger.

At Emery’s unveiling, Gazidis pointed to the meticulous research the former Paris St Germain boss had done to make himself the stand-out candidate.

“If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley,” he said.

“He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player.”

With Emery now at the helm, England Under-21 international Maitland-Niles has been handed a new long-term contract.

The promising 20-year-old is a product of the club’s academy and enjoyed a breakthrough season at during the last campaign – making a total of 28 first-team appearances.

Part of the England Under-20s team to win the World Cup in South Korea last summer, signing a new deal at Arsenal is the culmination of a big year for Maitland-Niles, who was delighted to hear that his new manager already knew plenty about his abilities.

“You don’t really hear a lot of young players being shouted out by their managers, especially a new manager who hasn’t really seen them play too much,” he told Arsenal Player following the announcement of his new contract.

“I think it’s brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence. It feels fantastic knowing that I’m going to be a part of the squad, and a big part of the squad.

“It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down. I’m very pleased.

“We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me.”


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