We’re delighted to welcome former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson as our exclusive columnist, each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Leeds United…
Paul Robinson would not be too impressed if Leeds United signed Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal in the summer.
Maitland-Niles, 23, has been on loan at relegation-threatened West Brom since the winter, playing 10 times in their midfield.
The England international was largely used as a full-back or wing-back in North London but he’s steadily started to improve in the centre of the park for the Baggies.
While Robinson can see why the Mirror is reporting that Leeds are watching developments regarding Maitland-Niles, he claims the Gunners loanee wouldn’t be someone who would fail to improve Marcelo Bielsa’s starting line-up.
Speaking to MOT Leeds News, Robinson said: “You can see why [he’s linked] because of the way that he plays.
“He’s not a player who would excite me and make me think, ‘oh what a great signing that is for Leeds’. I don’t think he changes the starting line-up much.
“He’s gone to West Brom and done a good job at West Brom this season, he’s shown that he can play in the centre of the midfield. He doesn’t want to play full-back, he wants to play in the midfield.
“But when the Leeds team is fully fit, he doesn’t get in the team. He’s not a signing who would excite me but you can see why they’re looking at a player like that.”
Maitland-Niles has had his struggles at West Brom since joining them on loan on February 1 but that’s understandably for a youngster who’s swapped the glitz and glamour of a wide role at Arsenal for a central position at a relegation-threatened side managed by Sam Allardyce.
He was always going to find it tough to get started but he has shown improvement in recent weeks with him earning Sky Sports’ man of the match award in the Baggies’ 3-0 win over Southampton.
During that match, Don Goodman told Sky Sports: “He’s stretched that Southampton defence by making runs in behind and then he has got back, made tackles, kept the ball and ticked every box for me.”
He’s also done well at Arsenal at times. Chris Sutton wrote on the Daily Mail website in August that he is “such a versatile talent, a diamond”.
Maitland-Niles is versatile and Bielsa likes that in his players. Just look at Stuart Dallas for example.
The 23-year-old West Brom loan star is only going to improve and if he’s available on the cheap, we wouldn’t mind him being in the squad to add some more strength in depth.
In other Leeds United news, Jamie Carragher slammed this player for his first-half display versus Manchester United on Sunday.