Report: Manchester United in 'Pole Position' for James Maddison Summer Transfer

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2019

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - APRIL 06: James Maddison of Leicester City Celebrates scoring a goal during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Leicester City at John Smith's Stadium on April 06, 2019 in Huddersfield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ben Early/Getty Images)
Ben Early/Getty Images

Manchester United are reportedly leading the race to sign Leicester City midfielder James Maddison this summer. 

According to Jack Pitt-Brooke of the Independent, while the playmaker has attracted interest from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, currently it's the Old Trafford outfit who are in "pole position" to complete a possible £60 million deal.

United executive chairman Ed Woodward and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "want more young British players at United next season," Pitt-Brooke noted. "They wanted Jadon Sancho, but the teenage winger is reluctant to move to Old Trafford. So Woodward has turned his attention to Daniel James and the 22-year-old Maddison."

According to Pitt-Brooke, the Red Devils have made the Foxes starlet a "priority" for the current transfer window, although as of yet they have not made an official approach to Leicester.

In the piece, Pitt-Brooke reports the teams linked with Maddison have followed his progress since he was a youngster at Coventry City. The playmaker moved to Norwich City before he arrived at Leicester for £20 million in the previous summer.

Maddison's first season in the Premier League was an impressive one, as he relished taking on creative responsibility in the team. Scouted Football illustrated just how many opportunities he conjured for team-mates:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

22-year-old James Maddison was the only player to create 100+ chances in the Premier League this season. • 52 chances created from open play • 48 chances created from set pieces High-level creator. https://t.co/gpmX9HhfZ1

Per WhoScored.com, when the Leicester man does get into the final third, he is so often accurate with his passing:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

James Maddison: Made more key passes (100) than any other player in the Premier League this season For more player stats -- https://t.co/r3guciS1lk https://t.co/zXPOAibD5u

On the ball, Maddison operates with elegance. The 22-year-old plays with his head up, can find team-mates in tight situations and ghost past opposition players in midfield too.

After finishing the 2018-19 Premier League season with seven goals and seven assists, it's not a shock some of the biggest clubs in the country are being linked with Maddison. United, who finished a disappointing sixth in the top flight last term, would certainly benefit from his arrival.

At times last term, the team was devoid of invention in the final third, with Paul Pogba inconsistent and little spark coming from anywhere else in midfield. All the numbers appear to suggest Maddison would change that.

Even so, according to Jacob Steinberg of the Guardian, at the moment Maddison is unlikely to force a move:

Jacob Steinberg @JacobSteinberg

If I was James Maddison, and I'm not, I'd steer clear of United, wait for better offers. It's really not hard to see Leicester finishing above them next season. Plus he's only been in the PL a year - needs to pick his next move carefully.

For United, you sense their summer business will be centred around adding younger players to the squad. The likes of Swansea City's James would likely be a cheaper option with the future in mind, although, at a possible £60 million, Maddison would likely be one of the costliest players in Europe in this summer's market.

Given he's only had one year of top-flight football, paying so much for him would possibly represent a gamble, as talented as Maddison is. However, you sense United's biggest obstacle will be Leicester's reluctance to do business.