Everton have a chance to sign a player they wanted in 2021 as a free agent

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who spent time at Arsenal, has been released by the club, almost two years after Everton’s attempt to loan the versatile player was rejected, writes the LiverpoolEcho.

Everton was engaged in discussions to acquire the Englishman in August 2021 to strengthen their right-back position. During that period, they were also pursuing Nathan Patterson from Rangers, who eventually joined in January 2022.

Throughout his tenure at Arsenal, the 25-year-old made 72 appearances in the Premier League but had four loan spells with Ipswich Town, West Brom, Roma, and Southampton. While Maitland-Niles is primarily a full-back, he has also been deployed as a midfielder, winger, and wing-back, with a perceived preference for playing in wide positions.

Initially, there were reports in 2021 suggesting that he was considered a part of Mikel Arteta’s plans for the future. However, he eventually joined AS Roma on a short-term deal until the end of the season in January of the following year.

After the loan talks fell through, the then-24-year-old expressed his dissatisfaction with Arsenal’s decision in a brief message on Instagram. In 2021, he wrote, “All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play.”

Now, 22 months later, Arsenal has released him as they confirmed their list of retained players following their second-place finish in the previous Premier League season. Maitland-Niles was the only senior player let go, while Zach Awe, Joel Ideho, George Lewis, Matt Smith, and Tom Smith were among the free agents from the U23s and U18s squads.

It remains uncertain whether Everton will show interest in Maitland-Niles this summer, but he was certainly a player they targeted in the past.