Kevin Phillips would be surprised if Leeds United made a move for Ainsley Maitland-Niles this summer.
The former Sunderland striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, expressed doubts over Maitland-Niles’ technical ability after an underwhelming loan spell at West Brom.
The Mirror claim Leeds are one of several Premier League clubs who are interested in signing Maitland-Niles from Arsenal this summer.
Maitland-Niles, 23, moved to West Brom on loan in January, seeking regular football in his preferred midfield role after being used mainly as a full back at Arsenal.
Phillips hasn’t been impressed with Maitland-Niles since his January move and insists that even though he has plenty of talent he would struggle to break into the current Leeds side.
“It does surprise me a little bit,” Phillips told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.
“He hasn’t been fantastic at West Brom, he’s had the odd good game here and there.
“For Ainsley, he undoubtedly has good talent. Wherever he goes next season he has to play regularly.
“Credit to the kid, when he came to West Brom he wanted to play and he has, he has progressively got better.
“You just wonder where he gets in that Leeds side at the moment, the midfield area possibly.
“Maybe that right back spot, I don’t know. I’d be surprised if [Marcelo] Bielsa went for him, he’s got the legs but he’s more of an industrious player than a technical one.”
Maitland-Niles has so far made 10 Premier League appearances for Sam Allardyce’s side but he hasn’t helped turn the tide in the club’s relegation fight.
West Brom could move level on points with Fulham if they beat Aston Villa on Sunday but that would still leave them seven points from safety.