Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be an outstanding player for Arsenal, says Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Enjoy him while you can because Ainsley Maitland-Niles is heading for the very top.
That’s the message from Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy to Blues fans after the 17-year-old Arsenal loanee’s exciting start to life at Portman Road.
The teenage winger – who’s in Suffolk for the season and can’t be recalled – produced a man-of-the-match performance in Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over newly-relegated Burnley.
Quick, tricky and classy on the ball, Maitland-Niles has also worked his socks off and been both unselfish and brave out of possession.
“He’s an outstanding player,” enthused McCarthy. “If he doesn’t end up being outstanding for Arsenal I’ll be very surprised. Thanks to Arsene (Wenger) for lending him to us because he’s done us a right turn.”
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Asked if he felt Maitland-Niles – who just has ‘Niles’ on the back of his No.7 shirt – was heading for the very top, McCarthy replied: “Absolutely. He looks like a slight lad, but he gets about and does all the jobs that wingers don’t traditionally do; tracking back with the full-back and getting his foot in.
“He’s got real quality and he’s a lovely kid too, he really is smashing. We’re blessed that we’ve got him actually.”
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Meanwhile, McCarthy says it was owner Marcus Evans’ decision to hand striker Freddie Sears a new four-year contract this week.
Sears has scored 11 goals in just 19 starts and seven substitute appearances for the Blues, following his switch from League One neighbours Colchester United back in January.
“Fair play to Marcus. Freddie was already on a long deal, but he did the business for us last year and Marcus has rewarded him with a contract that he thoroughly deserves and reflects his status in the club now,” said McCarthy.
“He’s somebody who has come in and stepped up a gear. He’s top class.”
Sears’ £100k price tag is increasingly looking like the Football League’s best bargain buy of 2015, especially when you consider that Bristol City are ready to splash out £9m on Brentford’s Andre Gray.
“That doesn’t really faze me that, what other people are doing, good luck to them,” said McCarthy.
“It’s funny, it’s always the same when a player is successful – everyone says ‘how did you get him?’
“Well we knew about Freddie because he was down the road at Colchester, we offered him another step up the ladder and it suited him geographically.
“Now you hear other clubs saying ‘we were looking at him too’, well ‘unlucky’ – we got him!”