James Maddison is Arsenal’s number one target this summer. That is something that I am fairly certain of.
If either Houssem Aouar or Martin Odergaard was the first choice, a deal would have been done by now.
Both Lyon and Real Madrid are happy to cash in terms with the players would not be hard to agree.
The fact neither deal has been done shows that they are options 2 and 3. That would leave Maddison as option one.
The Maddison deal is more complicated due to the price.
Reports are Leicester City are demanding £60million+, which is a huge price.
Still just 24-years-old Maddison ticks a lot of boxes including his age, Premier League experience and ability. Although questions will be asked about the hip injury he suffered last year and whether this has affected his ball striking ability.
Despite his ability, I can see why Edu is reluctant to spend £60million on Maddison.
With Ben White set to be confirmed today, that will take Arsenal’s expenditure to £75million. We have yet to raise any money in player departures.
The reported prices for Odergaard and Aouar are £35million and £25million respectively.
Maddison’s Premier League experience makes him the better player of the 3; but is it worthwhile spending around £30million more on him? That is the question Edu will be pondering; especially when the squad needs so much improvement elsewhere.
Edu will be aware how signing one player can impact the budget when targeting others.
With another midfielder and 2nd choice keeper still essential, spending £30million more on Maddison than what Odergaard would cost us will impact who we target elsewhere.
Were we to go for Maddison, one of two things need to happen.
Either Arsenal need to sell some players or Leicester have to come down on their asking price.
The lack of sales is proving a headache for Edu.
Not only is it the squad places they take up but also the potential incoming.
Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka would be expected to raise £60-70million between them.
We also have Lucas Torriera and Sead Kolasinac at the club. We would expect around £20million combined for the pair.
Selling the 4 would then raise £80-90million. That is a huge chunk and would more than fund a replacement right back and central midfielder for Bellerin and Xhaka.
Those bits of business would only leave us with needing the 2nd choice keeper and an attacking midfielder.
And that is without taking into account the income we could generate selling Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson (up to £100million if all 4 sold).
Were Arsenal to sell all 8 players mentioned, we would probably raise enough funds to be able to afford Maddison and one of either Aouar or Odergaard; whilst still getting the new right back, central midfielder and keeper.
Without the sales, the only way Maddison is coming is if Leicester City lower their £60million asking price.
The issue with that is Maddison does not seem to be pushing for a move.
Maddison spoke in an interview yesterday about having his ‘hunger and motivation’ back and how he was looking forward to the new season.
He knows full well that he could stay at Leicester for another year, play European football for the FA Cup winners and a transfer to a “big club” will still be there in 2022.
With 3 years still left on his contract, Leicester will be in no rush to sell as his transfer value will still be £50-60million next summer.
And were Leicester to continue with their top 6 finishes and competing for trophies, I would not be surprised if he signs a new contract next summer. There is a good chance with Tottenham’s problems that Leicester could replace them over the next 2 or 3 years in the medias “Big 6”.
So how do I think it will go?
I do not think Leicester will lower their asking price. They have no reason to do so and Maddison is not pushing for the move.
So I think if we do not see any sales over the next 7 days, we will put our interest in Maddison to one side and sign Odergaard or Aouar for half his asking price.
We may well return to Maddison towards the end of the transfer window depending on who we have sold and having signed a keeper, right back and central midfielder.
If we sell who we want and maximise those transfer fees, we could be back in for Maddison close to the transfer deadline.
That would leave us with Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Emile Smith Rowe, Odergaard / Aouar and Maddison as options to play behind the striker.
Moving for Odergaard in the next 10 days will not mean that we have given up on Maddison. It will mean the price is not right at this time.
Buy Maddison and get Martin Odegaard on loan with option to buy. Then sell Alexander, Willians
Despite Maddison having the better stats, I’d be far more in favour of Odegaard.
Odegaard has the character and attitude to thrive under Arteta and also, clearly room to grow in the Prem. Maddison’s behaviour last season and his lack of defensive intensity is a concern (albeit balanced out by his fantastic progressive passing).
I also think there would be a level of flexibility with Odegaard that would be useful for the squad. Sometimes he’d start on the bench and sometimes as an 8, allowing ESR to continue some of his development in the 10 role which I think is important for Arsenal and England.
If Maddison joined, I think ESR would only get meaningful opportunities as an inside forward / winger.
Aouar is a non-starter. The Arsenal board are too divided on him and Lyon apparently.
I’d take Odegaard over Maddison all day long. Take Aouar over him too. Maddison’s as good as he’s ever going to get and that, doesn’t equate to sixty million quid.
Odegaard for me too. He blended well last season. ESR’s stats improved with MO on the pitch. Plus– Odegaard is a tireless presser at the front. Not sure we’ll get that aspect from Maddison.
Maddison’s hip injury is the main concern. If his set piece prowess is diminished– his price tag must come down. Further– this also affects his longer-term longevity. Hip injuries rarely mend perfectly. Sometimes the cause of other issues as a byproduct.
Odegaard– all day.