James Maddison: Why the Leicester City man should have a big future for both club and country
With the score locked at 1-1, inevitability hung in the King Power Stadium atmosphere last Saturday while James Maddison placed the ball 25 yards from goal. Having already provided a couple of sighters earlier, it was no surprise to see his delivery nestle in the back of the net to give the Foxes a 66th-minute lead.
The 21-year-old forged a reputation in the Championship last season. He's now proving his worth in the top division. His goal at the weekend takes his tally to three in six Premier League appearances. His performances catch not only the Leicester fan's eye, but the wider football family.
Maddison started his career a short journey from the King Power. He made his professional debut for hometown club, Coventry City in 2014/15, for a League Cup tie against Cardiff City. Establishing himself at the League One club, he soon earned a move to the Championship, joining Norwich City in January 2016. Loan spells back to the Sky Blues and Scottish outfit Aberdeen followed before the youngster impressed suitors with his performances for the Canaries.
Leicester won the race for Maddison’s signature during the summer transfer window, paying a record £22 million fee [plus £2 million inadd-ons] for a Championship player. The midfielder made his debut for the Foxes on the Premier League's biggest stage, Old Trafford. Maddison announced his arrival in style despite his team's 2-1 defeat. The next logical step in any budding English player’s career is the Three Lions. Pundits and fans alike are already urging Gareth Southgate to include Maddison in the squad to face Croatia and Spain later in October. Alan Shearer claims, “It’s only a matter of time before he gets a full England cap.”
For Claude Puel, Maddison plays in the number 10 role, slotting in just behind the main striker. He's Jamie Vardy or Kelechi Iheanacho's main supplier. The 21-year-old can also play wide although he's most effective picking up the ball in the middle to drive the team forward. Such is his influence, it's easy to forget he's played in just six Premier League games. Leicester’s best play this season tends to go through the midfielder. He already ranks among the Foxes’ most important players.
As well as England did during the World Cup, a proper number ten to feed Harry Kane went wanting James Maddison could be that player. Unfazed by the big stage, he finds space on the pitch with ease and always knows where his teammates are. Throw in a reputation for the odd spectacular goal, with his set-piece technique already compared to former England captain David Beckham, and it becomes difficult to argue with Shearer's assessment.
Whether he achieves Beckham's level remains to be seen. Regardless, in his short time at the King Power, Maddison's won the hearts of fans as he did at his previous clubs. He's shown England what he can do. There's no doubt he's ready to impress Europe, then the world.