Wenger hints at Maitland-Niles as Coquelin’s midfield replacement

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Arsene Wenger last night confirmed that had sanctioned the sale of Francis Coquelin to Valencia, and that move is expected to be confirmed today.

The 26 year old was allowed to leave by the manager who has barely used him in the Premier League this season, but he at least added some depth to the squad.

With Aaron Ramsey injured, and Jack Wilshere’s next few weeks in doubt because of an ankle sprain picked up in last night’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, it has led to speculation that a midfield purchase might be on the cards.

However, Wenger seems willing to blood Ainsley Maitland-Niles in midfield once he has an established left back/left wing-back available to him again.

Asked about his plans for life with Coquelin, Wenger said, “First of all the best way to replace him is to get Aaron Ramsey back and Mesut Ozil back, that will help.

“After that, we’ll see. We saw Maitland-Niles again had an outstanding performance tonight. He’s a defensive midfielder basically, so at some stage I play him in there.

“We have Kolasinac injured, Monreal injured, but they will come back so that’s an opening for him.”

Wenger has spoken previously about Maitland-Niles as a defensive midfielder in the long-term, so this could well be the plan. It’s hard to give a player of potential games if you buy someone, and it’s not as if he’d have to replace someone who has played a great deal this season.

Nevertheless, injuries may put pressure on the manager to dip into the transfer market, but let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

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