How Will James Maddison Fit In At Spurs And Could It Make Him An England Starter?

Maddison looks set to join for £40m...
15:00, 28 Jun 2023

James Maddison is set to complete his move to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £40m, after a deal was agreed with Leicester City. A transfer away from the Foxes was always expected for the England international following relegation, and he joins a Spurs side that have already added Dejan Kulusevski, Pedro Porro and Guglielmo Vicario to their ranks on a permanent basis. 

Ange Postecoglou is looking to create his own revolution in north London and the signing of Maddison will certainly appease the fans, who have been desperate for a creative midfielder since Christian Eriksen left in 2020. At £40m, Spurs look to have got themselves a cut-price deal for one of the Premier League’s finest, but how will he fit in?

Well, he would have been the perfect foil for Harry Kane but the record goalscorer looks increasingly likely to depart this summer, with Bayern Munich lodging a bid. With one year left on his contract it would be financial suicide for Daniel Levy to hold him hostage for another 12 months. But Maddison’s arrival will at least ease the burden on his replacement, and help the rest of the team contribute more goals. 


After Kane, we are likely to see goals from all over the pitch from Postecoglou’s men, rather than a reliance on one goalscorer. There’s no doubt Maddison will be a key asset in that regard, having contributed ten goals and nine assists last term for a poor Leicester side. His set piece delivery could also help Tottenham add to the 16 goals (second highest total) they earnt from dead balls last term. 

Interestingly, it may be Postecoglou’s preferred formation and his dedication to the 4-3-3 that serves Maddison well when it comes to England. Gareth Southgate has used the 4-3-3 during and since the 2022 World Cup and it seems there is no place for a natural number ten like Maddison. 

But he played wide right and wide left for Leicester with varying success, and was used on the left wing for the Three Lions during the last international break with some success. Postecoglou will have a plan for the 26-year-old, and perhaps it features him on one of the flanks.


If he is thinking of using him in the same role Southgate has, it brings into question the future of Heung-min Son. He has two years left on his contract and looks certain to stay this summer, especially if Kane leaves, but he is now 30. An option could be to use him on the right or down the centre, a tempting option if Spurs’ chosen Kane replacement doesn’t hit the ground running. 

Maddison would love to link up with a forward of Son’s pace and quality and that could be a promising avenue for Postecoglou to go down. Getting them to play together, in their preferred positions however, would see the Aussie boss switch to a 4-2-3-1, rather than the 4-3-3 he knows and loves. 

Another option could see Maddison drop deeper, into a number eight role in central midfield. Under Brendan Rodgers, he combined wonderfully with Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi in a deeper role, and finished 5th for two consecutive seasons. That system also saw the Foxes win the FA Cup, and perhaps it makes more sense for Postecoglou to keep the Coventry academy product in the centre of the pitch. 

We saw at Celtic how his wide players stay incredibly close to the touchline in order to stretch the pitch, and that doesn’t suit Maddison’s attributes. Instead, he can take advantage of this space and join the number nine at every opportunity - just as David Turnbull did in his first season at Celtic. 

Maddison’s qualities would indicate he is likely to take this role, which would see Tottenham play a 3-3-4 out of possession. When you consider the impact the creator can have when given the licence to roam, it would be a surprise to see him get close or surpass the 30 goal contributions he managed in 2021/22.

Playing in the same formation, and in the correct position at club level can open doors for England. Maddison has proved he is far more than a number ten in recent years and now at his peak, Spurs should see the best of him. Becoming their key man could see him force his way into Southgate’s Euro 2024 plans.

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