James Maddison conjured up 19 goal involvements from 30 Premier League starts last term. He averaged 2.3 key passes per 90 and 1.5 successful dribbles per 90.

All told, in what wasn’t even a vintage campaign for the 26-year-old baller, he was lively and inventive, always looking to make something happen, but he was also highly productive, putting in the hard yards by tracking back. Putting in the kind of tackles some of his ilk shy from. 

He was unquestionably one of the stand-out performers in the top-flight.

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Focusing just on his stats above however, these are numbers that greatly impress, a return made all the more noteworthy because they were accumulated in a team that was otherwise moribund and woeful, eventually defying the Premier League betting by succumbing to relegation against all expectation. 

Just imagine what he could do therefore in a high-flying, confident, and well-organised side.

We don’t have to, because a year earlier that was Leicester City, finishing comfortably inside the top ten and extending on a successful period under Brendon Rodgers that saw the Foxes lift the FA Cup and routinely challenge for the top four. 

In the season before last, Maddison scored 12 times and out-assisted Son Heung-min and Bruno Fernandes.

He is then, by any reasonable definition, an excellent purchase for Tottenham, the London club capitalising on Leicester’s demotion and signing the attacking midfielder for £40m last week. 

Yet, it goes even deeper than that when proclaiming the move as one of the shrewdest of the summer.

Last season, Spurs were almost entirely dependant on Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min for creativity and moments of magic and each player could only provide it in fits and starts. 

Elsewhere, they were a predictable and functional side that fittingly prioritised functionality in their central area, turning to Hojbjerg and Bentacur to craft a clever pass and occasionally thread a throughball but little more besides.

This meant Harry Kane was too often starved of service beyond crosses, which makes his 30-goal haul all the more remarkable.

It’s no coincidence incidentally that Tottenham scored more headers than any other side last term, a strategy that is beneficial but ultimately limited. 

Maddison will change all that, offering his new side far greater scope when breaking down stubborn defences while giving Kane a wider selection of meats on which to feast on.

It is very likely too that Son and Kulusevski will thrive by having a fellow creative to bounce off, instead of making do with five-yard parallel passes played to feet.

And all this will place amidst a revamped 4-3-3 attacking set-up overseen by incoming gaffer Ange Postecoglou, a manager who favours fluidity and actively encourages adventure. 

Not for nothing has Tottenham’s Premier League top four odds improved of late, pertinently after securing the Australian in the dug-out and England international to bewitch top-flight back-lines.  

Spurs haven’t possessed a player of Maddison’s type since Christian Eriksen, or more accurately they have but have been guilty of under-utilising them or seen them fail. Neither will apply to one of the best buys of this window and beyond.


Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.