It is fair to say that James Maddison has taken the Premier League by storm after his £22m transfer from Norwich to Leicester City this summer; so well in fact that the Englishman was rewarded with his inaugural call-up to the England senior squad for the UEFA Nations League fixtures against Croatia and Spain. Despite not earning his first senior cap, the youngster’s form has been noted and critics have been few and far between during his early days with the Foxes.
His stellar start to life at Leicester resulted in fans and pundits too consistently mentioning him in the build-up to Southgate’s squad announcements, and with the midfielder already notching up three goals and two assists in eight Premier League appearances, call-ups for the England senior squad could soon be aplenty.
The 21-year-old started his career south-west of Leicester in Coventry and his former manager, Steven Pressley, knew he had a talented player on his hands back then. The Coventry manager admitted that if he ever did anything wrong while at the Sky Blues then he would be made to wash his car. Yet this was not all done in vein as Pressley presented Maddison with his football league debut at the age of 17 in a League Cup tie vs Cardiff City in August 2014.
Maddison caught the eye of a host of clubs around the leagues and it didn’t take long for him to be snapped up. He joined Norwich in 2016 for a fee of around £2.5m but it took the youngster over a year to make his first-team debut. Following his arrival in East-Anglia, he returned to Coventry for a brief spell before heading to Aberdeen where he quickly became a fan favourite after his last-minute free kick against rivals Rangers which resulted in a 2-1 victory.
After his impressive stint at Aberdeen, he returned to Norwich and last season managed 15 goals and 11 assists in 49 games which helped him into the Championship team of the season. This unsurprisingly caught the attention of Premier League clubs such as Southampton, Everton and Leicester City, with the Midlands-born midfielder choosing the latter after suggesting he felt the club was right for him and was the best move for himself. He was rewarded with a five-year contract from the Foxes and his flamboyant and confident nature put him in a position which allowed him to slot straight into Puel’s starting XI.
There were a number of calls for Maddison to be given his first England call-up for the fixtures vs Spain and Switzerland earlier in the season after his imposing beginning to life at his new club. Although he was not rewarded on this occasion, Leicester’s new man continued in this commanding nature and is now joint alongside England teammate, Raheem Sterling, in chances created so far this season with an empathic 15 to his name.
This is not the only table that the youngster leads as perhaps surprisingly to many, he is, in fact, the most fouled player in the Premier League this season. It is his ability to hold onto the ball in tight spaces and weave his way out of danger which causes him to be bought down so often – 24 times this season, three ahead of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. Maddison puts this down to his time in Scotland while at Aberdeen and states that in one game he set the record for being fouled – 10 times in 90 minutes.
Since being at Leicester he has appeared in the number 10 role frequently and it is this position which allows him to excel. He has the ability to pick out key passes and find his teammates, especially striker Jamie Vardy, in advancing positions and can also deliver deadly crosses from varied positions on the pitch. He is without doubt a set piece specialist and this was seen in his stunning strike vs Huddersfield earlier in the season; he is also not fazed to have an effort from whatever distance and has this season had the most shots for his Leicester City side alongside Jamie Vardy; 17 to be precise.
The new arrival is certainly a pivotal piece of Puel’s season plans and he has made a monumental impact in this Leicester side already. Although the Foxes waved goodbye to perhaps one of the greatest footballers to play at the club during the Premier League era in Riyad Mahrez, they have welcomed a youngster who catches the eye and a player who has all the assets to not only become remembered in the East Midlands, but also on a national scale for the Three Lions, which he is certainly so desperate to do.