Arsenal have reportedly identified Leicester City playmaker James Maddison as the man to replace Martin Odegaard – but they would have to spend big to sign him.
Odegaard gave Arsenal something they were lacking in terms of creativity when he joined on loan from Real Madrid in January. The attacking midfielder provided one goal and two assists from 14 Premier League appearances. His influence was generally positive, although Arsenal still missed out on European qualification.
That has affected their transfer plans and is one of the factors that has dented their hopes of keeping Odegaard on a permanent basis. Madrid now look likely to reintegrate the Norwegian, which means Arsenal will have to look elsewhere.
One name on their radar, according to the Daily Mail, is Maddison. The 24-year-old has been a standout in Leicester’s rise in recent years, scoring 11 goals in all competitions last season.
It was the justification for the new contract Leicester handed him in 2020, at which point he was being linked with the likes of Manchester United. But now, rumours of a move away from the King Power are resurfacing.
The Mail claim that Arsenal are considering a move for Maddison to replenish the creativity in their ranks. However, he will not come cheap.
Leicester reportedly rejected an offer of £70m from another club last summer. The fact that they followed that up by tying him down to a new contract suggests they could now value him even higher.
That hasn’t put off Arsenal yet, though, as they apparently have growing confidence that a deal can be done.
Maddison helped Leicester win the FA Cup towards the end of the season, but only as a substitute. He was seemingly not content to miss out on the starting lineup, but in fairness, was still on the road to recovery after an injury.
Whether he would consider a move away, though, remains to be seen. Arsenal are traditionally a bigger club than Leicester, but the Foxes have finished above them for the past two seasons.
And they have the power in negotiations, so Arsenal would have to stump up a convincing offer to tempt them into selling.
Arsenal need additional midfield reinforcements
It is not just creative midfielders that Arsenal need. With Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi all likely to leave, they will need reinforcements in deeper territory.
For example, they have been linked with Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. But there is another name on their radar: Anderlecht captain Albert Sambi Lokonga.
Despite his age, the all-action midfielder was handed the captain’s armband mid-way through the previous season.
They claim Arsenal’s opening gambit of £13m has been soundly rejected. Nevertheless, a deal between the two clubs still appears likely.
That’s because Anderlecht are fully aware Lokonga is ready to try his hand at a higher level. As such, they are reportedly holding out for a fee closer to £17m.
Arsenal are likely to return with an improved offer in due course. And given just a £4m disparity was present with the first bid, the two clubs could come to an agreement.