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Arsenal are reportedly one of six Premier League clubs ready to compete for Norwich City’s James Maddison during this summer’s transfer window.
The Daily Telegraph‘s James Ducker named the Gunners, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and champions Manchester City as those interested.
Ducker pointed out how the Canaries missing out on the playoffs in the Championship could prompt a sale. He also noted how Maddison would want his next club to offer him a “realistic chance of regular first team football.”
Interest in Maddison from England’s top flight has also been reported by David Anderson of the Daily Mirror. He said Maddison “knows he could quadruple his wages with a move to the Premier League and he wants to prove himself at the highest level.”
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There is some debate about Maddison’s value, with Ducker reporting the fee at £25 million, while Anderson has it as £30 million. Either way, it’s a valuation within the Gunners’ range, especially for a precocious talent who has taken great strides this season.
Maddison has scored 15 goals and provided eight assists across all competitions. Arsenal got the chance to glimpse his skills up close back in October, when Maddison and the Canaries were beaten 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
There is no denying Maddison’s ability, but it’s worth asking if Arsenal even need another attacking midfielder?
On one hand, manager Arsene Wenger’s squad is loaded with forward-thinking playmakers. Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey ensure the Gunners never lack for creativity.
However, Ramsey is out of contract in 2019, while fellow schemer Jack Wilshere’s deal expires this summer. Wilshere, who is wanted by Everton, has reportedly conceded he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, per David Woods of the Daily Star.
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Those issues could encourage Wenger to acquire another artful midfielder.
His alternative would be to give bigger roles to 21-year-old Alex Iwobi and exciting academy product Reiss Nelson. The latter is still just 18 and close to signing a new contract, according to Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph.
In another article, Wilson also reported defensive reinforcements will be Arsenal’s top transfer priority in the summer.
Fortifying a shaky back line makes more sense after Wenger has seen his team leak 45 goals in 33 league matches. It’s the main reason Arsenal are sixth and unlikely to be playing UEFA Champions League football next season unless the club wins the UEFA Europa League.
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Wenger’s squad has enough senior creators and youthful prospects to remain amply stocked in the advanced areas of midfield to not have to enter the chase for Maddison, no matter what happens with Wilshere.