Southampton are now leading the race to sign Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles, according to journalist Dean Jones.
West Ham have been heavily linked with the England international over the past week but Jones claims that the Saints are ahead of five other teams in the battle to secure the player’s signature ahead of the transfer deadline:
“Southampton are the most likely to get him at the moment, but there are as many as five clubs in the background waiting to see what happens with that. If that move doesn’t happen for any reason, then there will be a real battle to sign him before deadline day, but Saints does seem a good fit for him, and I think he’s up for the move if it can all come together.”
With the Hammers now focusing their attention on Club Brugge captain Hans Vanaken, Maitland-Niles is probably now only classed as a backup option for manager David Moyes.
The Gunners star can play in a number of positions, including as a fullback/wingback, but the recent addition of Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea means there is no urgent need to strengthen in that area of the pitch.
If another bid for Vanaken is rejected, Maitland Niles could still come back under consideration, although (even then), West Ham may look to pursue a player like Conor Gallagher instead, if the midfielder is available on loan.