Once again the summer transfer window is full swing, with the hierarchy at Arsenal looking to take full advantage during the lead-up to the 2021/22 season.
The north London side have already shown their intentions in this transfer season, with the arrivals of both Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga proving Mikel Arteta and his team are looking to take the initiative before the start of the season.
Having finished last season in 8th place, failing to qualify for European competition for the first time in 25 years, the Arsenal manager will be keen to freshen up his squad as he looks to improve on last season.
This transfer window has provided Arteta with the opportunity to hand-pick his favoured transfer targets, as he aims to build a squad capable of playing in the way in which he has been envisioning since taking the helm in winter 2019.
One rumoured target that has been of particular interest is Leicester City’s James Maddison – the young midfielder has been a creative mainstay in the Foxes’ side since moving from Norwich in 2018.
Should Arteta and the powers that be decide that Maddison is a top target, they will be well aware of the financial hill to climb to acquire his services. As one of Leicester’s most prominent talents, Maddison’s asking price will be towards the top end of Arsenal’s summer budget.
What would Maddison bring?
Maddison provided eight goals and five assists in the 2020/21 season, an attacking output that would have been more than welcome in the Gunner’s less than impressive campaign.
The 24-year-old has the potential and impetus to energise those around him, through his accurate passing, smart off-the-ball movement and versatility.
The young playmaker is capable of playing in both box-to-box and number 10 roles, his addition to the squad would surely bring another level of quality in depth that the Gunners may have been missing over the last few disappointing seasons. The midfielder is capable of producing the game changing moments that have alluded Arsenal in more recent times.
The addition of Maddison would provide Arsenal’s new number 10 Emile Smith Rowe with some healthy competition in the creative midfield role. It would also allow room for experimentation, as Smith Rowe can also be deployed out wide, vacating the space in the middle of the park for a player of Maddison’s calibre.
Could it really happen?
Despite the growing excitement among Arsenal fans, certain sources would suggest that it would be foolish to jump the gun on this matter. David Ornstein of the Athletic sees the Maddison deal to be somewhat out of Arsenal’s reach, with all of their transfer dealings so far considered, he spoke on Sky Sports News:
“James Maddison, that’s not what I can see developing, I think that would be a huge stretch of Arsenal’s finances, and I’m not sure it’s realistic especially with [Emile] Smith Rowe signing a new contract.”
With the apparent arrival of transfer priority Ben White imminent, Arsenal's finances may be stretched too far to afford the Leicester man.
Should a deal for Maddison deal fall through, Arteta and his technical staff will have a number of options to consider. A select group of Arsenal fans seem reluctant to put Joe Willock into the frame of the first team, but with the loan experience at Newcastle catalysing his maturing process, this coming season could be the year he makes his break into the first team.
The Gunners can also pursue other transfer targets such as Olympique Lyonnais’ Houssem Aouar, a name that has been on the red and white radar for quite some time.
Whatever business is to be done, the Arenal hierarchy will be hoping to get it done as soon as possible, in order to attack the new season with steady foundations to build from.