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New Prem suitor in hunt, as klaxon sounds for two-way Arsenal transfer tussle

Premier League new boys Watford have joined January suitors Southampton in a renewed hunt to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal, a report claims.

The Gunners have, alongside Aston Villa, quickly become the team to watch early on in the transfer window. Despite a poor showing last season, Arsenal have taken fast steps to making additions. They plan to submit a second sizeable bid for Brighton defender Ben White, while goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale remains a target.

But after Mikel Arteta’s side’s ninth-placed finish, a portion of the funds must come from sales.

Granit Xhaka has interest from Roma, even if the deal has become more doubtful. Hector Bellerin could also leave, with a Liverpool star naming his potential next move.

However, versatile star Maitland-Niles is a third player who could depart to raise Arsenal’s transfer funds.

He has returned to the Emirates Stadium from a loan spell at West Brom, where he moved after turning down significant interest from Southampton.

According to the Daily Mirror, though, the Saints have rekindled interest alongside promoted Watford.

Southampton’s interest comes as ‘no surprise’, but the Hornets are looking to bolster their ranks further after signing ex-Tottenham full-back Danny Rose.

The newspaper’s report adds that Southampton and Watford will make their moves for Maitland-Niles ‘next week’.

While the 23-year-old – who can play at full-back or in midfield – left on loan in January, Arsenal are ready to sell him this time round. The England international has two years left on his contract.

Maitland-Niles made 26 Premier League appearances last season, missing only two for West Brom.

Overall, he has played 79 times in the top flight and earned five Three Lions caps.

Maitland-Niles wants transfer clarity

Speaking earlier this month, Maitland-Niles insisted that he would be willing to quit Arsenal to get regular minutes.

He told The Telegraph: “If I was to get a phone call from someone at Arsenal and they said they’d like a meeting tomorrow, then it would be easier that way.

“They can tell me whether they’ve got plans to play me in the future or if they want to sell me. I’ve heard they want to make some space [in the squad] and some money so I’m not sure.

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“I want a decision. I want some clarity. And then hopefully I can get to work with whoever I need to get to work with.

“Whether that is finding a new club or whether that is carrying on with my training. I would like some kind of indication of what is happening. Where they [Arsenal] see me.

“If it works out it works out, if it doesn’t then kiss Arsenal goodbye. It’s been a long journey but a proud one at that.

“Maybe they still want to do something and things could change. If not, there’s always other teams.”

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