Premier League clubs are preparing their cheque books for the coming summer transfer window and nowhere is a longer queue growing than outside Norwich City, where some of the biggest teams in the country are desperate to begin bidding on young midfielder, James Maddison.
The 21-year old has been in stellar form for the Canaries this season and has been linked with a move to West Ham, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton and Crystal Palace. Which would explain the £25 million price tag the club recently slapped on their sole representative in the Championship Team of the Year.
Who is James Maddison?
Maddison began his career at Coventry, where he came through the club’s U18 squad and was first called in to the senior squad in October 2013. However, it wasn’t until the following 2014/15 season in which the young midfielder got his first break in English football.
In a Coventry side looking to avoid relegation from League One, Maddison made sporadic appearances due to a back injury but became a regular substitute off the bench before the end of the season. His coach at the time, Tony Mowbrary, continued to believe in the young talent and by the beginning of the following season Maddison had been handed a starting role in the side and the cherished No.10 shirt.
Regular football at the Ricoh Arena eventually led to interest from bigger clubs and in the 2015/16 January window Norwich City signed the midfielder with the condition that he be loaned back for the remainder of the season. He finished the campaign after helping Coventry move up from 17th the season before to eighth in the League One table.
In his first season at Norwich Maddison found himself shipped off to Aberdeen, where he scored two goals and created seven assists in just 14 Premiership games. A run of form that led to his parent club recalling him after the turn of the year, only for him to make just a handful of appearances for Norwich in the second half of the season.
However, this season has been a different story entirely and at the heart of Norwich’s midfield is where Maddison not only pulls the strings but routinely scores the goals that win games for the Championship side.
What are Maddison's main strengths and weaknesses?
Maddison is undoubtedly an attacking midfielder that has little trouble scoring and creating goals in equal measure. With 14 goals to his name already this season, the 21-year old not only sits second in terms of goalscorers from midfield in the Championship but has actually hit more shots than any other in the division over the course of this current campaign.
Maddison creates chances for his team-mates. It's just what he does. He finds himself within the top five midfielders in the Championship in for assists per 90 minutes and also sits second only to Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White when it comes to passes made in to the opposing final third every match.
Essentially, Maddison is very much a classic No.10 due to his ability to do just about anything when it comes to taking the game to the opposing defensive line.
For all of Maddison’s attacking ability, the central midfielder clearly plays with very little intent on defending when his team don’t have the ball. In this season’s Championship the young star has averaged just 0.34 tackles per game and even at that his success in winning said tackles stands at a tepid 27 percent.
Similarly, the Norwich midfielder manages just 1.7 interceptions per game and when it comes to winning aerial duels Maddison comes out on top in just one out of every five attempted. Although he may not be on the pitch to tackle, header or intercept the ball there’s no denying that if called upon this young midfielder would struggle with that aspect of the game.
Should Crystal Palace sign him?
If there’s one thing Roy Hodgson’s midfield desperate needs next season it is goals. Although Palace can always rely upon forwards like Bakary Sakho and Wilfried Zaha to score up front, there aren’t many in the centre of the pitch who can score or create chances as well as Maddison has for Norwich this season. The more ammunition going the way of Christian Benteke, the better for the Eagles.
Equally, both James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye are both now over the age of 30 and some youthful alternatives at central midfield could undoubtedly add something to Palace’s chances next season. Even if he does end up costing £25 million.