According to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, Maddison’s traditional role as an “out-and-out number 10” may have deterred several ‘big six’ clubs from signing him this summer.
Maddison, a 26-year-old English midfielder, made headlines with his high-profile move to Tottenham Hotspur from Leicester City, a club that had been relegated. The reported £40 million transfer fee made him Spurs’ most significant acquisition of the summer. Maddison wasted no time in making an impact, scoring two goals and providing four assists in his initial appearances for Tottenham before their Premier League matchday seven clash with Liverpool.
Carragher believes that Maddison’s comfort and effectiveness in the traditional number 10 position, which has slowly become less common in modern football, may have dissuaded top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea from pursuing him.
“I have no doubt all watched him for Leicester and at some point over the last three years considered signing him. The reason they said no is because Maddison’s most effective position is unfashionable for elite coaches,” Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.
Carragher goes on to explain, “Maddison excels most as an out-and-out number 10. Over the last six years – or certainly since Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3 began dominating world football – such players are an endangered species.”
It appears that modern elite coaches, including Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mikel Arteta, and Mauricio Pochettino, prioritize multi-faceted attacking players or midfielders who can assume various roles on the pitch. Maddison’s attributes may not align perfectly with the expectations of these managers.
Carragher elaborates on this point, stating, “Maddison is not the quickest, nor does he stand out as someone who will trigger a high-pressing game. He does not have the natural athleticism of a No. 8, and he is less effective playing as a wide attacker cutting inside.”
However, Carragher also highlights Maddison’s strengths, noting, “He shines knitting midfield and attack, deceptively quick in possession and technically superb at quickly seeing and delivering a defense-splitting pass.”