Earlier this summer, Arsenal were linked with a £60M move for James Maddison. Per @TheAFCBell, the “in the know” Twitter account that was first on the Thomas Partey transfer, Maddison’s representatives are expecting the Gunners to make a formal approach to Leicester City for the 24-year old playmaking attacker. Arsenal have reportedly offered a four year contract with a option for a fifth year, double his current £110K weekly wage (which is a bit of a yikes for me), and the #10 shirt.
I don’t love the idea of Arsenal moving for Maddison. He’s a talented player, to be sure, but he’s has an injury history and might be bit of a chucklehead. He’s had multiple instances of breaking COVID protocols, which raises questions about his discipline / professionalism.
Price is by far the biggest sticking point for me. Maddison would cost Arsenal about two and a half times what it reportedly would to acquire Houssem Aouar. There’s a heavy English tax for Maddison, and buying him enriches a direct competitor. And Leicester City would spend the money well, and I’d rather that not happen.
Aouar and Maddison are similar players — comparison from the fantastic fbref.com. Aouar’s raw numbers (xG, shot creation, passing, etc.) are better, but Ligue Un is an “easier” league. Maddison is already Premier League proven. Aouar might take a bit of time to get up to speed in England. It’s a tossup from an on-field perspective.
Don’t get me wrong — James Maddison would improve Arsenal. Mikel Arteta needs another creative attacker, and Maddison checks that box. He’s also homegrown, but right now, Arsenal don’t have an issue satisfying the homegrown rules.
Per @Orbinho, Maddison created a chance every 41 minutes last season, for comparison, Arsenal’s best was Martin Ødegaard at one every 43 minutes. If you look at chances from open play, Maddison (one every 61 minutes) ranks behind Ødegaard and Emile Smith Rowe (both at 54 minutes per chance created).
Arsenal will need somebody to pick up the slack left by Ødegaard returning to Real Madrid, and Maddison would do that. That six-minute difference per chance created amounts to a fraction of a chance per game and about 7 more chances over the course of a season. It’s really not much of a difference.
Those chance creation numbers also show that Maddison is useful on set pieces, and Arsenal could definitely stand to improve their attacking set pieces next season. They ranked near the bottom in the Premier League in set piece goals. The Gunners might naturally improve in that category with the departure of set piece coach Andreas Georgson for Malmö in his native Sweden, where he spent the majority of his career. And to be fair to Georgson, Arsenal were one of the best teams in the Premier League on defensive set pieces, but I digress.
Bottom line: I’d prefer Arsenal look at Aouar first and elsewhere second, but if Maddison is the move Edu can pull off, I won’t be kicking down the doors at London Colney, calling for his job.