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Why isn't Europe's Most Creative Player in the England Squad?

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James Maddison: Better than Messi and Hazard, why isn't Europe's most creative player in the England squad?
Playing as a number 10, he has shown the technical skill, awareness and set-piece precision that surely warrants a place in this squad but Southgate disagrees

Jack Pitt-Brooke @jackpittbrooke

Eden Hazard has created 74 chances this season, and Lionel Messi has created 76, but at the very top of the tree, the most creative player in Europe’s top five leagues this season is an Englishman: James Maddison of Leicester City.

 

Maddison has created 81 goalscoring chances this season, putting him joint top with Atalanta’s Alejandro Gomez and Lyon’s Memphis Depay. It is a remarkable record, especially given that unlike Hazard, Messi and the rest, this is Maddison’s first ever season at this level. He only made his Premier League debut seven months ago.

 

Since then, Maddison has impressed for Leicester City, first under Claude Puel and now under new manager Brendan Rodgers. Playing mostly as a number 10, he has shown the technical skill, awareness and set-piece precision he has had ever since he first broke into the Coventry City team at the age of 17. And having learned his trade at Coventry, Norwich City and Aberdeen, he has an unfussy physicality that many players his age lack.

Maddison’s progress at Leicester saw him rewarded with promotion into the senior squad last October, for England’s Nations League group games in Croatia and Spain. Along with Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho, he added a youthful feel to Southgate’s group.

 

And yet five months on, with England preparing their squad for their forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro, the start of a new cycle, Maddison is not in the group. Instead he is with Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under-21 squad for their home friendlies against Poland and Germany, preparation for the European Under-21 Championships in Italy in June.


Even though there are absences among England’s preferred attacking midfielders, with Jesse Lingard out injured and Harry Winks not fit enough to be in the squad either. Even then, Maddison still did not make the cut.

So Gareth Southgate was asked about this at his press briefing at St George’s Park on Wednesday afternoon, after the squad list was announced. "I think there are others in the attacking positions ahead of him,” he said. 

Watch more
 
Southgate pointed to the fact that Maddison has mainly played as a 10 in a 4-2-3-1 for Leicester. England did not use a 10 in their 3-5-2 and they do not now either in their 4-3-3. Meaning that Maddison would have to play deeper to get a game.

“I think he’s a number 10 and, at the moment, we’ve not been playing with a 10. In the 10 position we’ve also got Dele [Alli] and Raheem [Sterling], Marcus [Rashford], Jesse [Lingard], although Jesse is not available this time. So I think he’s in with a really strong under-21 group, but at the moment I think that others are ahead of him.”

But Maddison has proven that he can play deeper than a no10 role, earlier in his career and even in Leicester’s game against Fulham earlier this week, when he moved into a central midfield role in a 4-4-2. And in those midfield roles Southgate has picked players who are struggling for a look-in at their clubs: Fabian Delph, eight league starts all season, none since he was sent off on Boxing Day, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has started one league game all season.


All Maddison can do is continue to work hard and impress for the U21s and Leicester, but his new manager Brendan Rodgers has no doubt that he will.

“England have a whole raft of good players but I have no doubt he will improve as a player,” Rodgers said on Thursday. “He has the last pass you don’t see a lot of midfield players. He is a huge talent and he can play forward very quickly because he has vision in his game. We want to add intensity and goalscoring to help him. He is a wonderful player and he has made great strides. I see a lot of potential and he is willing to work on his game."

 

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/england-squad-2019-james-maddison-leicester-city-gareth-southgate-messi-hazard-a8824231.html

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Playing as essentially the main creative force for us compared to the sort of role he'd have in the senior England set up, having a more minor role, could severely hamper his performance and his confidence. Currently everything goes through him or Tielemens, if he misses his final ball for Vardy, another opportunity will come. You won't be afforded the same patience at international level, he's already got a section of FT on his back, he doesn't need the national press criticising him as well. The U21s is there for a reason, to groom players like maddison who has the potential to become a future star for the national side without the pressure. Putting him in too early may be detrimental to his development.

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It’s a bit of a nothing stat though isn’t it really? If nobodies finishing those chances then it becomes a bit of a nonentity. I know that isn’t directly his fault. 

 

I think some of the criticism of Maddison this season has been unfair and I think he’s a very good player, but I think Southgate was just about right to leave him out this time. He’ll get his chance. 

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Just now, SouthStandUpperTier said:

The double negative in the thread title is annoying me.

Beat me by seconds :angry:

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Blimey, are they talking about our James Maddison? Yeah, I know, the numbers don't lie.

 

Nah, no doubting his talents but I reckon he's still got a bit of 'trade learning' to do yet. I think it's the right decision to keep him plying his trade for a bit longer. Tbh, I would have concerns about his temperament at the national level and he's maybe got a little maturing to do. 

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48 minutes ago, AjcW said:

I think decisions like this actually show that Southgate is a really good manager, chance creation stats are nice, but there's been a number of holes in his game over the last 6 months that outweigh the positives. Keeping him in the U21's for now is the correct decision. 

We have been missing a player who can create good chances for so long. Mahrez stopped creating so many chances after our title season and last year we had so few we were all crying out for someone. Now we have James, the FTers are truning on him. 

 

Personally I'm so happy that we now have James, Tielemans and Barnes in the same team creating chances. Next step is to consistently put those great chances away.

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9 minutes ago, SouthStandUpperTier said:

So who's been missing all these 'goalscoring chances' for us then?

Where shall we start....

 

I mean I’d like to know what counts as a goal scoring chance by the way. It felt like,  for a large part of this season, we created absolutely nothing so it is a hard stat to believe. 

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10 minutes ago, SouthStandUpperTier said:

So who's been missing all these 'goalscoring chances' for us then?

Vardy mostly. 

 

Of course he's now in his "new manager" bounce phase where Jamie so often scores well at the beginning of manager's reigns. Let's hope he keeps this up and doesn't follow the previous trend and we end up saying goodbye to Rodgers before the end of next season.

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Just now, Manini said:

Where shall we start....

 

I mean I’d like to know what counts as a goal scoring chance by the way. It felt like,  for a large part of this season, we created absolutely nothing so it is a hard stat to believe. 

Yep. Seems like a very subjective stat. Perhaps a better, more indicative and unbiased stat would be 'xG created'.

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18 minutes ago, SouthStandUpperTier said:

So who's been missing all these 'goalscoring chances' for us then?

maguire, mainly. 

 

said in another thread, over half of maddison’s “chances created” have been corners aimlessly floated into the box, and as long as either maguire or morgan wins the header, that will count as a “chance created”. 

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11 minutes ago, ScouseFox said:

maguire, mainly. 

 

said in another thread, over half of maddison’s “chances created” have been corners aimlessly floated into the box, and as long as either maguire or morgan wins the header, that will count as a “chance created”. 

And this is why many of stats touted in the modern game are utter shite.

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Because the stats are mostly bollocks as anyone who actually watched him week in week out would know. Knocking the ball three yards to Ndidi to blaze over by 30 ft probably goes down as creating a chance.

 

Talented player, but he's got a lot more to do and prove just yet.

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I think it says a lot that there wasn't much clamour from us as lcfc fans for him to be in the squad. He's been better recently, but before that went off the boil for a while. 

 

The stat is far from useless, but it lacks the context that a lot of his chances created have been from set pieces, which obvs is a different skill to open play passing. 

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26 minutes ago, ScouseFox said:

maguire, mainly. 

 

said in another thread, over half of maddison’s “chances created” have been corners aimlessly floated into the box, and as long as either maguire or morgan wins the header, that will count as a “chance created”. 

That might be the case, but the chances created stat criteria is the same for everyone. The stat says he's top among all players in the top 5 European leagues. He is far from the only creative player who is also the set piece/corner taker among all those clubs.

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16 minutes ago, brucey said:

That might be the case, but the chances created stat criteria is the same for everyone. The stat says he's top among all players in the top 5 European leagues. He is far from the only creative player who is also the set piece/corner taker among all those clubs.

yeah no arguments there, however he’s a lot lower down on all the “good chances created” or assists tables, so doubt they’re all doing the same thing 

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2 hours ago, AjcW said:

I think decisions like this actually show that Southgate is a really good manager, chance creation stats are nice, but there's been a number of holes in his game over the last 6 months that outweigh the positives. Keeping him in the U21's for now is the correct decision. 

:appl:

 

Maddison is a good player, and he has the potential to improve into a very good player that could be key for England. But as of right now he isn't consistent enough and needs to keep working hard to improve. For me specifically I would say his flaws are:

- Fades as the game goes on. Often times when Puel brought him off I felt it was the correct decision as his energy levels dropped off. Looked better recently.
- Pass the ball too slowly / takes too many touches. This has already improved under Rodgers though, so this can easily be fixed.
- Goes down too easily. He does win a lot of free kicks but sometimes his falls are embarrassing and cause turnovers of the ball that put us into trouble.

- Overall game experience and game management is lacking. Will come with time.

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2 hours ago, AjcW said:

I think decisions like this actually show that Southgate is a really good manager, chance creation stats are nice, but there's been a number of holes in his game over the last 6 months that outweigh the positives. Keeping him in the U21's for now is the correct decision. 

Changed my mind from my initial reaction when the squad was announced, and I have to agree with what you’ve said here. Southgate has been smart in keeping the majority of that squad together - they spent so much time together and achieved so much in the summer that keeping those players mostly together is important. Maddison is still very young, and on the whole he’s had a great season, but putting him in the U21s instead, especially when he’s not had much previous experience in the U21s, could be more beneficial to him in the long run. 

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