Brendan Rodgers has revealed that Newcastle United target James Maddison is a ‘very respected voice’ in the Leicester City dressing room as well as being the team’s talisman.
Maddison has been directly involved in half of struggling Leicester’s 14 goals this season and the forward inspired his side to their first victory of the campaign with two goals and an assist in the 4-0 win against Nottingham Forest on Monday night. Perhaps, then, it is not a surprise that Leicester will do all they can to keep hold of Maddison as the 25-year-old approaches the final year-and-a-half of his contract.
Newcastle, of course, had two bids rejected for Maddison last summer, when a senior source at Leicester stressed to ChronicleLive the Foxes star was ‘not for sale’, and the Magpies must decide whether to test that stance again in 2023. Clearly, it is not just Maddison’s footballing ability that piqued Eddie Howe’s interest given the value the Newcastle boss also places on character.
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“There’s absolutely no doubt his maturity on and off the pitch has developed, but that’s what happens with growth,” Rodgers told reporters on Thursday. “If you’re 10 years of age, you’re totally different at 15, 16 and it’s no different coming in here.
“James is now in his mid-twenties and he’s developing and improving on the pitch and outside in his life. For me, he’s always been that.
“He talks the game so well because he has a passion for it and a love for it, but he’s definitely a very respected voice within the squad, one for our younger players. They’ve seen him come through. He’s a boy from the Midlands. They’ve seen his career develop and they see what a top player he is so they have a huge respect for him.
“Because of James’ personality, I can imagine when he was 16, 17, he will have had no fear going in amongst senior professionals and being a voice then. He’s exactly the same now. He sees the game really well. He calls the game really well. He’s a very important player for us on and off the pitch.”
Maddison’s character has previously been questioned after making headlines for the wrong reasons, whether he was being pictured out in a casino days after being sent home by England because he was ill in 2019, or being one of three Leicester players dropped over a breach of coronavirus regulations in 2021. However, Maddison became a father for the first time last year and the 25-year-old spoke last month about how ‘the England stuff is not at the forefront of my mind at the minute when we’re sat bottom of the league’. That is exactly the sort of character Howe wants to work with: a player who thinks of the team first and themselves second.
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