Ralph Hasenhuttl admits on-loan Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles is still not up to speed at Southampton

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles joins Southampton FC on a loan deal from Arsenal
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles joined Southampton on a loan deal from Arsenal (Getty)

    Ralph Hasenhuttl admits Ainsley Maitland-Niles is still not up to speed with Southampton’s style of play following their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Friday evening.

    Maitland-Niles joined Southampton on a season-long loan from Arsenal in the closing stages of the summer transfer window, while the Saints also have to option to buy the 25-year-old.

    The midfielder made his Southampton debut in the 1-0 defeat to Wolves earlier this month as he came on as a second-half substitute.

    But Hasenhuttl dropped Maitland-Niles from his squad for Southampton’s trip to Villa on Friday evening as Jacob Ramsey’s goal sealed the win for Steven Gerrard’s side.

    ‘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 explained after Southampton’s defeat to Villa.

    ‘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.’

    Ralph Hasenhuttl says Ainsley Maitland-Niles needs to improve his defensive contribution
    Ralph Hasenhuttl says Ainsley Maitland-Niles needs to improve his defensive contribution (Getty)

    Speaking before the match, Hasenhuttl indicated that he was still not content with the defensive contribution that Maitland-Niles has shown in training.

    ‘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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