James Maddison is already looking like a little bit of a bargain at £22 million. He was excellent again on the weekend as his Leicester side were downed in a spirited defeat to Liverpool at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes were beaten 2-1 but continued to show encouraging signs as they push for a second consecutive finish in the top half of the Premier League. Their English playmaker was central to a lot of their excellent work. In this game and Leicester’s last Premier League game against Southampton, Maddison has played slightly deeper and looked to get onto the ball more frequently.
With Demarai Gray playing up front, Maddison was ostensibly always going to be Leicester’s main creative threat. He did well to escape Liverpool pressure, drifting off both wide and deep and diversifying the mode of attack as Leicester heaped on pressure in the second half. The attacking midfielder registered three key passes and had five attempts on goal, too.
“He ran the game today in a midfield full of international players and I was surprised he [Claude Puel] took him off with 10 minutes to go as I would have kept him on. I thought he was fantastic, 21 years old, fourth game in the Premier League and he looks like he has been here for years. I was so impressed and was looking forward to watching him today. He is so comfortable on the ball, plays little one-twos, always looking to pass forward. And also the first to press, wins a lot of balls back high up the pitch and I just thought his imagination and passing in the midfield area, which was so congested, was just brilliant, it really was.”
However, his shot locations continually prove to be… interesting. Maddison likes to shoot from long range and he is good at it. But, his strength is cutting inside and curling efforts around the goalkeeper, whereas a lot of his attempts on goal have been from other areas outside the box. Furthermore, four of his eight attempts on goal this season have been blocked – two of which were free-kicks smashed directly into the wall.
Defensive pressure will also be something Maddison will look to work on, and it appears as though he still has a bit of a fitness base to build up. At this stage he is unable pressure and harry at Premier League standard for the full 90 minutes – he has started all four games so far and been subbed off in each.
His marking also needs work, as he was caught out of position at a set-piece as he lost Roberto Firmino who headed Liverpool 2-0 up just before half-time. However, Claude Puel will likely feel confident of being the right manager to get the best out of Maddison.