Ainsley Maitland-Niles career as an Arsenal player is over.
He had joined the club as a six year old and progressed through the academy to make the first team, handed his debut in the Champions League by Arsène Wenger when he was just 17.
Prized for his versatility, able to play either in midfield or full-back, his best spell came with Mikel Arteta’s first season as manager, when he helped them win the FA Cup, and also won the first of five England caps.
Unhappy, though, about playing in defence, he flirted with moves to Wolves and Everton, and them had loan spells with West Bromwich Albion and Roma, neither of which was convincing.
He has spent this season on loan with Southampton, and they have the option to make that permanent, although with them headed for relegation, they might not be ready to take that up.
Out of contract at the Emirates at the end of the season, the Gunners have already informed him they will not exercise their option to extend his deal by a year.
And that means that he will be leaving the club as a free agent, come what may.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.