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Battle in North London Ensues over £60m Leicester City Star

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By Martin Graham | 11th Apr 2022

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are set for a bidding war over Leicester City midfielder James Maddison in the summer, The Sun reports.

Arsenal have been going after Maddison for a while now, with the Gunners making their most prominent move in the summer of 2021 before the start of the 2021/22 season.

At the time, Martin Ødegaard had run his loan contract up and was returning to Real Madrid. The Norwegian’s future in the Spanish capital was uncertain, but there was no guarantee that Arsenal would be able to keep him, having lost Dani Ceballos the same way in the season before.

Leicester dragged out the negotiations with Arsenal for Maddison despite reports that the former Norwich City man was keen on playing for the Gunners. The Foxes outfoxed the Gunners eventually to keep their star midfielder.

Arsenal eventually got back Ødegaard from Madrid, paying £30 million this time for a permanent deal. Yet, many reports claim that Mikel Arteta is still keen on coaching Maddison, who has one cap for the Three Lions of England.

The Sun now reports that the £60 million Leicester midfielder is now a target for Tottenham Hotspur, who, like Arsenal, have a war chest to do business in the summer.

Meanwhile, former Arsenal man Paul Merson, writing in his column for Daily Star, claimed that Arteta’s Arsenal can still clinch the last UEFA Champions League spot for the Premier League by finishing in fourth place this season.

Arsenal lost back to back games since returning for the international break; 3-0 at Selhurst Park to Crystal Palace and 1-2 to Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates. The Gunners have quite a challenging fixture list ahead of them, with games against Chelsea and Manchester United among their fixtures.

The last two games were considered easy based on their schedule but with Arteta picking zero points from both, the challenge to finish in the top four has just gotten tougher. On the other hand, Spurs, who are now set to challenge them for Maddison in the summer, have won their last two games emphatically to leapfrog their bitter North London rivals into fourth place.

Despite the recent turn of events, Merson still believes that Arsenal can pip Spurs to fourth place, claiming that the Gunners’ rivals are a one-man team of Harry Kane alone.

Merson wrote for Daily Star: “It was a wake-up call the way Arsenal lost to Crystal Palace. They were well beaten. It put pressure on them with Tottenham winning and I don’t think they handled it very well.

“Arsenal have brought West Ham and Manchester United back into it as well by losing. But I think there will be a lot of twists and turns to come yet. It’s all about bounceback. It’s going to change every week. It’s going to be like this until the end of the season.

“Spurs are all about Harry Kane. If Kane turns up, they can beat anybody. He turned up at the Etihad a few weeks back, was a nine out of ten, and they win the game.

“Now he’s turned up against West Ham and Newcastle and they’ve won those games comfortably and put themselves back in the race. As long as he turns up, they’re alright. But he didn’t turn up at Burnley and they lost. For me they’re a one-man team because he’s the engine.

“If you own a Ferrari it’s no good without an engine in it and he’s the engine. For me, as long as Harry Kane keeps turning up, Spurs will be in there and Arsenal will be in trouble. But surely he can’t keep performing this well for the rest of the season? As soon as he has one of those off-days Spurs will slip up and Arsenal will pounce.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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