Jamie Carragher believes James Maddison being an “out-and-out number 10” may have prevented Tottenham’s ‘big six’ rivals from signing him this summer.
The 26-year-old England midfielder was Spurs’ most high-profile acquisition this summer after relocating from relegated Leicester City for a reported £40m.
- Premier League title odds 2023/24: Man City early favourites to go four-in-a-row
- Premier League most assists: Playmaker Award favourites for 2023/24
- Premier League top four odds 2023/24: Who will finish in the Champions League places?
Maddison subsequently hit the ground running having netted two goals and created four more ahead of Tottenham’s match with Liverpool on Premier League matchday seven.
So far no one has registered more assists while only Bukayo Saka (19), Bruno Fernandes (18) and Pedro Neto (18) have created more chances than him (17).
Under the leadership of Ange Postecoglou the Coventry native operates in a deep-lying forward role behind Heung-Min Son and Carragher feels Maddison’s comfortableness in the traditional number 10 position, which is slowly being phased out, deterred his former club Liverpool as well as both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 25, 2023
“I have no doubt all watched him for Leicester and at some point over the last three years considered signing him. The reason they said no is because Maddison’s most effective position is unfashionable for elite coaches,” he wrote in his Telegraph column.
“Maddison excels most as an out-and-out number 10. Over the last six years – or certainly since Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3 began dominating world football – such players are an endangered species.
“My suspicion is that Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mikel Arteta and Mauricio Pochettino took a look at Maddison and were swayed more by what he does not do more than his qualities. In their best sides, Guardiola and Klopp expect multi-faceted attacking players or midfielders to assume the responsibility of those who once placed themselves just behind the main striker.
“Maddison is not the quickest, nor does he stand-out as someone who will trigger a high-pressing game. He does not have the natural athleticism of a No.8, and he is less effective playing as a wide attacker cutting inside.
“He shines knitting midfield and attack, deceptively quick in possession and technically superb at quickly seeing and delivering a defence-splitting pass.”