The race to sign talented Coventry City midfielder James Maddison is quickly heating up, and he seems like a more likely target for Arsenal to sign in January than Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot.
Maddison is thought to be among the best young talents in League One and is being scouted by the Gunners and Liverpool ahead of a possible January move. Coventry reportedly want £10 million for the 19-year-old but will insist he is immediately loaned back, similar to how Tottenham Hotspur signed Dele Alli from MK Dons last season, per the Independent's Jack Pitt-Brooke.
A clever playmaker with superb passing range and quick feet, it's easy to see why clubs are interested in Maddison's services. He seems to always be around the ball and does a fantastic job finding space, as you can see in the video below:
Young English talent is incredibly valuable these days, with homegrown criteria restricting what clubs can do in the transfer market. That explains why the Sky Blues should feel confident holding out for a significant transfer fee for a youngster with superb potential but limited experience at the senior level.
Maddison has missed the bulk of the 2015-16 season with an ankle injury, and while he looked just fine in his return against Oldham athletic, some caution is warranted.
Coventry City manager Tony Mowbray believes it would be in Maddison's best interest to stay with his boyhood club for now, per Kieran Crowley of the club's official website:
Here, he'll be able to let his talent flourish where he is appreciated but if he moved to a big club, he isn't going to get in their first-team.
My advice to the player and to the football club at the moment is to put all that behind you and let people write what they want to write. He should in a place where he'll enjoy his football and let the talent grow.
But it would be hard for a club like Coventry City to turn down a significant bid, particularly if Arsenal agree to loan him back immediately. The Sky Blues sit near the top of the League One standings and will prioritise promotion, for which they'll need Maddison, so a sign-and-loan deal would be in everyone's best interests.
Maddison would not be an immediate impact player at the Emirates, unlike Adrien Rabiot, who is still the subject of transfer chatter.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi previously ruled out a January move in an interview with Le Figaro (h/t London Evening Standard's James Benge), but sporting director Leonardo sounded a lot less confident in a recent interview with Calcio Mercato (h/t talkSPORT):
He is a young midfielder but he is ready to play.
PSG trust him a lot and I think he'll remain at the club. PSG are playing lot of competitions and they will definitely need him.
The club is forced to win every year but they also need to think about the future.
Per Bleacher Report's Andrew Gibney, the Frenchman could become the subject of the biggest transfer saga of the winter window, despite PSG's seemingly persistent stance:
Andrew Gibney @Gibney_A
Biggest transfer story this winter could be Adrien Rabiot. He wants to play more, reported Arsenal interest. #PSG need to keep him imo.2015-12-24 11:33:11
The 20-year-old already has a reputation for being one of the most difficult players in Ligue 1 to deal with and once lasted mere months with Manchester City before he moved back to France.
Per Goal.com's Robin Bairner, his mother has a tendency to openly wage war on clubs in the media, and it nearly led to an exit last season.
His playing time has since increased, but he's still not an automatic starter in Les Parisiens' midfield due to the presence of star midfielders like Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi. He seems eager to battle for a spot in France's UEFA Euro 2016 squad, which could open the door for a loan move in January.
Here's a look at what he brings to the table:
Arsenal's midfield could use some more depth and creativity in the wake of Santi Cazorla's injury, and a short-term deal for Rabiot could be the answer. If he's happy in north London, the Gunners could even meet with PSG to discuss a permanent move, knowing Rabiot and his entourage aren't afraid to hold a club hostage to get what they want, per Bairner.
But a January deal still seems unlikely. PSG need Rabiot's versatility in case one of their regular starters suffers an injury, and they still have high hopes for the young playmaker. A deal for the Frenchman isn't impossible, but a move for Maddison seems more likely.