Mikel Arteta has finally solved Arsenal problem after snubbing target ‘top of his list’
This weekend, Arsenal’s previous ‘top target’ James Maddison will have the chance to showcase to Mikel Arteta why he should have pushed to secure his signature in the summer.
Since being appointed as Arsenal manager in 2019, one of Arteta’s major issues at the Emirates Stadium has been finding a player to craft open chances.
The Spaniard inherited a weak, ageing squad but has since transformed the Gunners into a youthful, attacking-minded outfit that are only going to improve with time.
New signings have been central to their recent success, as has bringing through bright sparks from the Arsenal academy and giving them regular opportunities to prove their worth at the very top level.
The Gunners no longer have fears about lack of creativity thanks to Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe, who have been brilliant for the North London outfit this season.
But one of the two, at least, would not have had the chance to flourish at Arsenal had the club have come to an agreement over a deal for Leicester playmaker Maddison.
The Foxes midfielder was linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium throughout the summer and it was felt that he could provide the spark that the Gunners needed in the final third to secure Champions League football.
However, the Foxes valued the England international at over £60million and despite numerous offers, Arsenal were not able to persuade Brendan Rodgers’ side to part ways with their no.10, according to Football.London
They have reported that Arsenal were unwilling to cough up all of the required fee for Maddison but were keen to still complete the deal by offering some of their fringe stars as makeweights in the move.
Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah were all ‘mentioned’ to Leicester as players they were willing to let go to the King Power Stadium in a deal for Maddison but the 2015/16 Premier League winners were not fond of that idea.
And when that became apparent, attentions turned to Odegaard and bringing the Norwegian back to North London permanently.
After a quiet start to the season, Maddison is beginning to find his best form again of late and has scored seven and assisted three so far this campaign.
The Norwich City academy product suffered a lower back injury earlier this month that kept him sidelined for Leicester’s victory over Leeds last Saturday, but his 10 minutes against Rennes in the Europa League in midweek suggests he should be ready to take on Arsenal.
It feels somewhat unlikely that the Gunners will still be in the market for Maddison in the summer now that Odegaard and Smith Rowe are improving and proving they are top prospects.
Speaking about the former, who arrived from Real Madrid in the summer, Arteta said: “Martin for us is a really important player, that’s for sure.
”He’s showing that every single week. He’s phenomenal to work with. He’s developing areas of his game that we discussed, that he agreed with, and that we believed could help him impact matches in a much more powerful way.
“His whole mindset, the way he prepares himself, the way he treats people, the way he plays the game, is just exactly what we want from an Arsenal player.”
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will be able to consolidate as the team likeliest to pinch that coveted final Champions League spot on Sunday or whether Maddison will leave the Gunners ruing their reluctance to not dig deeper into their pockets.
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