As England lost their UEFA Nations League semi-final the Netherlands last night, there was something obvious missing from the Three Lions’ side: a lack of creativity going forward. As a result, the search will be on to find a number ten for England. However, Gareth Southgate may not have to look much further than Leicester City’s James Maddison.
James Maddison: England’s Perfect Number Ten
For years, England have lacked a creative player who isn’t afraid to carry the ball forward. Arguably, it has been missing since the days of Paul Gascgoine.
Last night against the Dutch, Gareth Southgate opted for a midfield trio of Fabian Delph, Declan Rice and Ross Barkley in which Barkley was operating further forward. The Chelsea midfielder has the capabilities, but not the form to allow himself to grow. He is a shadow of the player he once was at Everton.
Southgate did label fatigue as a problem when speaking to the media, understandably so when seven of his squad had played in the Champions League final only days before. However, he could have picked players in-form, such as James Maddison or James Ward-Prowse.
A clear difference between England and Holland was the chances created. Holland had 29 shots on goal, in contrast to England’s 14. Frenkie de Jong can be credited for the Dutch excellence going forward. Gliding through midfield, he dictated play single-handedly. So much so, he had a pass completion rate of 96.2% last night.
A creative mind similar to De Jong is what England need, and Leicester’s James Maddison could be the answer.
Why James Maddison?
Maddison had a fantastic debut in the Premier League season with Leicester. The most visible stats – goals and assists – don’t always tell the full picture. Seven goals and seven assists is a good return nonetheless, but there is more to Maddison’s game.
In the 2018/19 season, Maddison averaged almost three key passes per game. An impressive total nonetheless, made even more impressive at the fact Frenkie de Jong averaged 1.3 per game.
The Englishman was also more direct in his passing, completing on average 39 per game. Not only do England need creativity, but they also need somebody who is direct going forward.
The Future is Maddison
As England develop, so will James Maddison. There will be no better time to implement Maddison than the next round of England fixtures. He will be essential for Euro 2020.