On-loan Arsenal outcast told he will not play yet: ‘Lot of work to do’

The 25-year-old has joined the Saints on a season-long loan from Arsenal, though after playing 17 minutes off the bench on debut against Wolves he was left out of the squad entirely for his new side’s trip to face Aston Villa.

Hasenhuttl confirmed that decision was not down to any injury issues, but rather that he believes Maitland-Niles was not yet ready to play a significant role at the club.

“We have with Ainsley a lot of work to do also because he has to adapt to our game and this is something that takes time a little bit,” Hasenhuttl said.

“We see also during the week what we ask him to do and especially in the midfield position it takes a little bit to understand how we want to do it.

“It doesn’t make sense to throw someone in who isn’t ready for what we want to do. When he is ready and on the level we think he has to be then he will help us for sure.”

Maitland-Niles has also had loan spells at West Brom and Roma over the past 18 months, after struggling to get any sort of consistent role at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta.

In comments that suggest the versatile Englishman has a long way to go to win over Hasenhuttl, the Southampton boss expanded on his concerns over Maitland Niles’ work-rate and ability off the ball, claiming it was not something he had developed at his previous clubs.

“I think he’s a very good player on the ball but he has to learn that our game starts when the ball is not with us,” Hasenhuttl said.

“I think this is something he had never needed to do in the clubs he was playing in.

“But meanwhile it’s modern football, this is a very crucial part, you can see this is still something he has to learn, therefore we are investing our time to make him better.

“He’s not the loud 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 in the future in football he has to add a few parts to his game he hasn’t had so far and we will help him doing this.”

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