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Transfer Talk: Clubs going Madd for Foxes star after England heroics
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Matthew Hill
James Maddison was a standout performer on his first England start
James Maddison was a standout performer on his first England start

James Maddison grasped his England opportunity with both hands — and his performance against Ukraine could prove the catalyst for a summer switch.

Leicester have suffered a hugely disappointing Premier League campaign with Maddison and his team-mates currently in the thick of an unexpected relegation battle.

The Foxes will struggle to keep hold of their talisman, who is out of contract next summer and being strongly linked with the likes of Arsenal, Newcastle and Manchester City.

Ahead of Leicester’s return to action against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday, we turn the spotlight on their star man.

Shining bright

Maddison had to bide his time for his second senior England appearance — 1,228 days, to be exact.

The creative midfielder was given his debut by Gareth Southgate in a 7-0 drubbing of Montenegro in November 2019, at a time when he looked certain to become a regular starter for his nation.

Yet a combination of cruel injuries, other impressive performers and questions over his attitude have seen the Coventry native consistently overlooked since his debut.

There was no ignoring Maddison ahead of last winter’s World Cup with a fine start to the season earning him a long-awaited recall to the Three Lions squad.

But fate would once again conspire against the 26-year-old as a knee issue restricted his involvement in Qatar to little more than a cheerleader role.

Taking a positive

Rather than sulk about his bad fortune, Maddison claims he tried to be a positive presence around England’s World Cup group — and that effort clearly did not go unnoticed by Southgate.

The pragmatic boss saw fit to start him for the first time against Ukraine at the weekend and was rewarded with a majestic display. 

And though the 2-0 England victory will not live long in the memory of some, Maddison’s five chances created was the most recorded by any player on their first senior start since Theo Walcott against Andorra in 2008.

Former striker Chris Sutton believes the Leicester ace has already shown enough to become a regular starter for his country going forward.

Sutton told the BBC: "A lot of people have been calling for James Maddison to start for England long before now.

"I think he deserved a start earlier and he must be undroppable on the basis of today's performance."

In demand

Though Maddison is an extremely popular figure at his club, even the most optimistic Leicester fans know an exit could be imminent.

His current deal runs out in summer 2024 and talks over an extension appear to have reached an impasse with no update having been given by either side in recent months. 

Even if the Foxes do avoid relegation — something Maddison is determined to make sure of — the Foxes cannot afford to let another valuable asset run down their contract ahead of a free transfer.

Belgian international Youri Tielemans is poised to leave the club for nothing this summer so raking in a sizeable fee for Maddison would help balance the books somewhat.

With nine goals and six assists to his name in a struggling side, several Premier League clubs are ready to make a move and a bidding war could easily ensue come July.

Keeping focus

James Maddison has still enjoyed a strong campaign despite Leicester's struggles
James Maddison has still enjoyed a strong campaign despite Leicester's struggles

Arsenal, Newcastle and City are thought to be leading the chase for Maddison but the man himself is not looking beyond the next few weeks.

After his impressive England display, Maddison said: "It felt brilliant to play. It’s refreshing to be out there with the lads in a strong team and a big game. I really enjoyed it.

"It’s Leicester head back on now though. it’s too much of an important run-in. And then hopefully some good international games to look forward to in the summer."

Having skippered the side in the absence of Tielemans and Jonny Evans in recent weeks, Maddison is shouldering plenty of responsibility in Leicester’s battle for safety.

Dragging the Foxes over the line may well end up being a fitting farewell.


Leicester CityEnglandPremier LeagueArsenalNewcastle UnitedManchester CityJames Maddison
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