Transfer Talk: Foxes still in hunt as Maddison steps up in Vardy's absence

Tom Hancock
LiveScore
14/04/202210:30
James Maddison has become a crucial player for Leicester in the absence of Jamie Vardy
James Maddison has become a crucial player for Leicester in the absence of Jamie Vardy

As Leicester continue their quest for European success, one man is on a mission to make this his most impressive season yet.  

After a slow start, James Maddison is playing some of the best football of his life, inspiring the Foxes in the absence of Jamie Vardy. 

And Maddison, 25, will have another opportunity to shine tonight when Brendan Rodgers’ side take on PSV Eindhoven in the second leg of their evenly-poised Europa Conference League quarter-final. 

Ahead of that match, we focus on why he is proving pivotal to Leicester’s chances of a strong finish to the season and is a player they might struggle to keep hold of this summer.

Taking responsibility

James Maddison has been impressing in the Premier League this season
James Maddison has been impressing in the Premier League this season

Leicester may be on course for their lowest Premier League finish since 2018-19 but Maddison might just be having the campaign of his career. 

He is only one goal or assist away from equalling his previous top-flight best for goal contributions (14), which is perhaps a statistical representation of him becoming the Foxes’ main man. 

With Vardy missing most of the last four months injured, Leicester needed someone to take on the role of talisman — and Maddison has certainly looked up to the task.

Serving it up

James Maddison has supplied five assists in the Premier League this season
James Maddison has supplied five assists in the Premier League this season

With nine assists in all competitions, Maddison is Leicester’s joint-leading provider alongside Harvey Barnes. 

Playing as part of an attacking trio behind a lone striker, Maddison has fashioned 61 chances at an average of 2.02 per 90 — placing him some way ahead of the rest of the squad. 

In fact, he is one of the most effective creators among all Premier League midfielders, with only five conjuring more big chances in the division this season than his eight.

Fox in the box

James Maddison has scored eight Premier League goals this season
James Maddison has scored eight Premier League goals this season

Clearly, Maddison is not going to become the next Vardy in a scoring sense — but he is enjoying his most prolific season for Leicester, finding the net 13 times. 

The one-cap England international is currently averaging 0.28 non-penalty expected goals per 90 in the Premier League, having never previously averaged more than 0.19 in a single campaign for the Foxes. 

Distant danger

Much of Maddison’s goal threat comes from range and he ranks joint top for Premier League goals outside the box since his debut in the competition in 2018. 

With 13 long-distance strikes, he sits alongside Southampton set-piece master James Ward-Prowse — the only player to score more times directly from free-kicks over that period. 

After his stunning set-piece effort in Leicester’s 2-1 win over Brentford last month, the Foxes’ No10 reflected on his footballing journey so far. 

He said: "I’ll always say when I score a free-kick it’s really satisfying to see them go in because over the years I’ve practised so much. 

"From a little boy from Coventry who was watching David Beckham on YouTube to putting them in in the Premier League. It’s nice, it reminds you that you’ve come a long way." 

Time to move on?

Maddison seems to have been linked with a move away from Leicester ever since joining them from Norwich almost four years ago. 

Arsenal were reportedly chasing the 5ft 9in creator, who was said to be keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium. 

That switch failed to materialise last year but the rumour mill is turning again and the Foxes may have a fight on their hands to hold on to him.

The Gunners are again being touted as a potential destination, as are arch-rivals Tottenham. 

Leicester have not historically stood in the way of players wanting to leave and it would be understandable if Maddison feels inclined to depart, particularly if the Foxes are without European football next season.

Tags

Europa Conference League 1Leicester CityJames MaddisonPremier League
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