Atletico Madrid are plotting a loan move to bring Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles to the club, according to reports.
The 23-year-old was heavily linked with a Gunners exit in the summer, with Premier League rivals Wolves launching a bid in the region of £20million.
He would ultimately stay in north London with the expectation that Mikel Arteta would hand him a more pivotal role this season.
However, Maitland-Niles has started just four Premier League games, although that does include the last pair of matches.
La Liga leaders Atleti are set to be in the market for a right-back in January after Kieran Trippier was handed a 10-week worldwide ban for breaching betting regulations.
Trippier will miss 13 games in total, leaving Diego Simeone with a hole he will need to fill.
The Daily Mail report that Maitland-Niles has been on the Spaniard’s radar for over a year, with Trippier’s ban forcing them to accelerate any potential deal.
After rejecting a switch to Molineux in the summer, the player himself admitted that Arteta had played a decisive factor in his choice.
“There was a lot of speculation going around, but I chose to stay at the club I love,” he said in October. “I am happy with my decision and I am sure the manager is happy that I stayed as well.
“It was about the manager having faith in me and him letting me know what’s going on and the situation. He did that and everything was fine in the end.
“He just installed a lot of confidence in me that I had in myself, but maybe I didn’t know how to bring out.”
Should Arsenal allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to leave next month? Have your say here.
It remains to be seen whether Arteta, who is facing increasing scrutiny himself, will allow Maitland-Niles to leave this time around, particularly in the midst of their wretched Premier League form.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher recently urged the Gunners boss to hand the defender a full-time role in his line-up, even at the expense of Hector Bellerin.
He said: "I think it’s time to play him week in, week out, I really do. I think Bellerin has played a lot for this club and he has done well for them, at times.
"But I really do think Maitland-Niles should be the player there in that position now. Whether it’s right-back or right wing-back."
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