James Maddison

James Maddison is facing a potentially defining week in his career. The Leicester City midfielder, who has been in scintillating form since the start of the campaign, is waiting to see if he is included in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

The 25-year-old, who has made just one appearance for his country, is in the form of his life. In a struggling Foxes side lingering at the bottom end of the Premier League table, Maddison has been the one positive so far this term. But even that might not be enough to secure him a place in the Three Lions squad.

Maddison has spoken openly about his desire to play for his country, admitting he feels he should be in with a shout of being selected on current form. Whether or not the midfielder goes to the World Cup will become clear this week, but he has certainly given himself the best possible opportunity.

While the Leicester star has been utilised on the flanks so far this campaign, his versatility has also seen him play as an attacking and central midfielder throughout his career. Having registered 87 goal contributions in 184 appearances for the Foxes, his ability to impact the game at the most important end of the pitch has seen him linked with moves away from the King Power Stadium in the majority of transfer windows.

United have been tentatively linked with the player in recent years, but a move to Old Trafford, in all honesty, has never been close to completion. For a period of time, he appeared to be the player that the Reds were missing, but following Bruno Fernandes’ arrival at the club, talk of a move for Maddison has cooled.

With Erik ten Hag having recruited Antony, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro in the summer transfer window, and winger Jadon Sancho joining from Borussia Dortmund last year, it doesn’t seem like an attacking midfielder will be at the top of his transfer priorities in the coming months. The Reds are expected to go all-out for a striker, with Cristiano Ronaldo expected to leave the club in January, or at least in the summer.

Given the attacking options United have, it is understandable that very few people are discussing the possibility of the Reds making an approach for Maddison. However, there is, undoubtedly, a legitimate argument to suggest that Ten Hag should be looking to sign the Englishman.

Following his performance against Everton on Saturday night, in which he recorded two assists in the 2-0 victory, a graphic showing his statistics since August began to do the rounds on social media.

The topic area – the most goal involvements since August 2021 by selected English players in the Premier League – was extremely fitting given the upcoming England squad announcement. Maddison was at the very top of the list having registered 30 goal contributions, with Bukayo Saka (27), Mason Mount (25), Jarrod Bowen (24) and Phil Foden all among those behind him in the rankings.

Jack Grealish, a player who has contributed to just seven goals since August – 23 less than Maddison – is expected to be included in Southgate’s squad for the tournament in Qatar. Given that the Manchester City attacker has made 24 appearances for his country, he is clearly the preferred option, despite the statistics in the Leicester player’s favour.

Maddison is out of contract at the King Power in 2024, and, right now, it doesn’t appear that he is close to signing a contract extension with the Foxes. Given his situation at Leicester, he could prove to be a relatively cheap option for any interested clubs – comparable to other attacking stars with similar output, that is.

He has demonstrated that he has a good attitude, with his recent England snubbing being a prime example of that. He has never spoken badly about Southgate or the set-up – publicly, anyway. His honest approach to pre and post-match interviews has led to widespread praise, and he just clearly loves what he does for a job.

Maddison is also a boyhood United fan. While this arguably means less than it once did, the 25-year-old supporting the club could potentially go a long way if the Reds were interested in a move for the player.

Where exactly he would fit in the side is up for debate. There is certainly an argument to suggest he wouldn’t start on the wing for the Reds, and it would be a brave decision to drop one of Fernandes, Casemiro or Eriksen for him. However, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t prove to be an important player for Ten Hag’s side, he might just have to wait for his opportunity.

Under Ten Hag, there has clearly been an emphasis on recruiting young, hungry players. At just 25, Maddison still has a lot of his prime years ahead of him. He would add a new dimension to the Reds side, and there’s even an argument that a move to Old Trafford would boost his England chances.

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