Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Arsenal will look for another midfielder in the January transfer market after agreeing to let Ainsley Maitland-Niles be on loan for the remainder of the season at Roma.
Versatile English international Maitland-Niles leaves the Emirates Stadium and joins José Mourinho and Tammy Abraham in the Italian capital after finding it difficult to get regular playing time in North London.
Arteta can appreciate why the 24-year-old wants to move on, but, with Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey out of service at the African Cup of Nations, the Arsenal manager admits he is running out of power in an important area of the pitch.
Will Arsenal sign a new midfielder in January?
When asked if Arsenal will look to tackle midfield in the winter window after agreeing to part ways with Maitland-Niles, Arteta said: “We are very, very short at the moment. But in fairness to a gamer, this cannot be the only argument for trying to keep a gamer, and a gamer that has been developed and raised through our academy.
“A player who has been patient in many moments and has tried to fulfill his dream. He was very direct with me and I understood the situation and we think it is a good option.
“Obviously we are going to move and we are going to look for options because there we are very short.”
“Ainsley came to me and explained the reasons why he thought the best thing for him in his career at the moment was to move,” added the Spaniard about letting local talent head to Serie A.
“He felt that the opportunity to go to Rome and work with José was a good one. Being fair with the amount of minutes he has played, he was entitled to that opportunity. We wish him the best. “
While beefing up their engine room has become a priority for gunners, there is a lot of speculation about supposed targets in other areas.
Arsenal are strongly linked with a number of highly skilled forwards, including Fiorentina leader Dusan Vlahovic and Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak.
Arteta is reluctant to be carried away by his plans there and says: “You know that I will never be able to talk about players other than ours.”
However, he acknowledges that the attacking department must be scrutinized, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been frozen following a violation of club discipline, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah will see their contracts expire in the summer.
“We have a special situation because there are three players with different problems at the moment,” Arteta said of the club’s forward’s problems. “We have to live with that and so far the players who are here are very committed.”
Arsenal are expected to return to action on Sunday when the team face Championship Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round.