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James Maddison to Arsenal: the rumor that won’t go away

More buzz. Is there actually fire to go along with all this smoke?

Wycombe Wanderers v Leicester City: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Arsenal have renewed (or maintained) their interest in a transfer move for James Maddison, according to Sky Sports and @TheAFCBell. When the rumor first started knocking about in June, Leicester City supposedly wanted £60M for the 24-year old attacker. Now, the number quoted is £70M. I just can’t see Arsenal paying that much for anybody, especially with the £50m they’ve already spent on Ben White, which should be officially announced in the next few days.

But I’ve been wrong before. The Gunners seem to have stumbled across a pile of cash this summer that a part of me, in the back of my mind, always assumed they had. It’s a bit of revisionist history, but I don’t think I ever fully bought the “Arsenal have limited funds” line that they tried to feed us. It was always about a willingness to spend rather than a lack of ability to do so. Arsenal have money. Stan Kroenke has lots of money.

Perhaps this sudden change of tune has something to do with confidence in Mikel Arteta and Edu’s long term plan for the club that Aidan recently wrote about. Maybe they’ve realized that Arsenal are in a tough spot and the recent decline on the pitch and in the final table will continue to have a compounding effect on the bottom line. Or it could be something else. But it’s clear that something has changed at the club that has loosened the purse-strings.

It’s no coincidence that the James Maddison to Arsenal rumor has cropped simultaneously with the rumor that Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal might be back on. One rumor that seems to have died down is Houssem Aouar to Arsenal — there hasn’t been anything on that one for a few weeks. But clubs and agents are constantly trying to manipulate the market and work behind-the-scenes to best position their interests. Who knows, maybe this is all a smokescreen while the Gunners move somebody completely off the radar.

Honestly, this one is difficult for me to parse out. There are multiple different hypotheticals that could reasonably explain who is trying to do what with these rumors. But I’m going to go on the record reiterating what I said at the outset — I just don’t see Maddison to Arsenal happening. The number is too big.