Arsenal have conducted some eye-catching transfer business to date and it isn’t over yet. The Gunners are pressing ahead with a move for James Maddison from Leicester City. Sky Sports report that the midfielder is keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium, despite his current club finishing higher in the last two league seasons.
There has been speculation about players being involved in part exchange, but Leicester would favour a cash deal. Arsenal will be trying to sell some fringe players to fund the move. Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson have all been linked with permanent moves away, which will help facilitate this deal.
Mikel Arteta has shown a desire to add another creative midfielder to his squad. Last season, they had Martin Odegaard on loan to compete with Emile Smith-Rowe. Although the academy graduate has signed a new deal and given the number ten shirt, he is still raw. The club want another option, so there isn’t pressure on Smith-Rowe to play every game.
Maddison will provide a more experienced option. There are also points to prove for the Leicester City midfielder. He hasn’t ever really broken into the England squad and that will be something he will be pushing for ahead of the World Cup next year. A move to the capital to play for one of the traditional top-six teams could see his chances improve, even if they are in transition.
During his three seasons in the Premier League, Maddison has shown promise without producing the numbers of goals and assists needed to breakout as one of the leading midfielders. In this period, he has contributed 21 goals and 15 assists in a Leicester shirt. His goal involvement is one every 210.7 minutes. If he is to break into the England squad, he will need to improve on this and Arsenal could provide the fresh start to do that.
In the last year, there has been an improvement in his attacking numbers. His had a goal involvement every 161.9 minutes in the 2020/21 campaign. Injuries hampered him in 2021 and that denied any small chance he had of making the squad for Euro 2020.
The last 12 months have seen Maddison’s underlying numbers follow a similar trend. He averages 3.24 shots and 4.79 shot creating actions. The Leicester City playmaker ranks in the 94th percentile when compared to other attacking midfielders for both metrics.
When looking at his non-penalty expected goals, he averages 0.23 per ninety minutes, putting him in the 63rd percentile. Considering he has a high shot volume, this shows that he take shots from range a lot of the time. Arsenal were a little shot shy last season, averaging 11.97 per ninety minutes. This ranked them 11th in the Premier League.
Maddison would certainly improve this. This is added to his creativity, which will be the main reason for bringing him to North London. Arsenal struggled to create clear chances last season ranking 9th in the league for expected goals. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains one of the best at finishing chances, even if he is declining a little bit.
If Arsenal do manage to sign Maddison, they will have a good array of attackers. Smith-Rowe will play a big part and continue his development. Nicolas Pepe ended last season in good form, while Bukayo Saka is one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League.
Leicester won’t be willing sellers, but Maddison would fit in well at Arsenal. The Gunners had attacking deficiencies last season and the 24-year-old carries a huge threat in the final third. He will increase their shot volume and create better chances for the rest of the attack.
Stats taken from Whoscored and fbref (powered by Statsbomb)