How Leicester should replace James Maddison

For the last year, there have been rumours about Man United being interested in James Maddison. Transfermarkt value the English playmaker at £43.2 million however, it has been reported Leicester would ask for anything in excess of £100 million. If they do get their asking price for the former Coventry midfielder, how should they spend that money?

Emiliano Buendia, £20 million

The most like for like replace on this list is Emi Buendia, the Argentine playmaker has been nothing short of sensational for the Canaries. At the time of writing, Buendia has assisted seven of Norwich’s 25 league goals this term. The former Getafe man has played 2016 minutes from the available 2610 minutes and in these minutes, he has really shown his worth.

Although he is yet to score in the Premier League his xG is at 1.92 showing he has been slightly unlucky on that front. His xG and xA per 90 sits at 0.39 showing how vital the 23-year-old to Daniel Farke’s attack.

The former Real Madrid youth academy player is heavily involved in play. He attempts 52.7 passes per 90 at an 81% accuracy which isn’t tremendously high, but a lot of these passes are attacking and risky as highlighted by his attempted five long balls per 90.

Buendia completes 4.1 dibbles from an attempted 5.8 per 90, his dribbling further highlights how mature and technical the diminutive star is. However, he isn’t a luxury player as he is extremely hard working on the defensive end.

He marries 2.9 tackles with 0.9 interceptions to show his hard work off the ball as well as on it. When adjusted for possession, he completes 3.76 tackles and interceptions per 90 compared to James Maddison’s 2.11. This extra steal in midfield without losing any creative spark could be what Leicester need to become a European regular.

Todd Cantwell, £30 million

Todd Cantwell has been ever present in Norwich’s attack. The versatile attacker has started 25 games and made a further four substitute appearances in the Canaries’ 29 league games of the 2019/20. During his 2082 league minutes, the 22-year-old has played on both wings and can play centrally showing his versatility and the depth he could offer to the Foxes.

Cantwell averages an xG and xA of 0.33 per 90, Norwich average 1.11 xG per 90 showing how important he is to their attack as he involved in roughly 30% of their xG per 90. The young Englishmen would fit into Rodgers’ side as he averaged 30.8 short passes with an accuracy of 83.7%. These are very solid numbers especially as he plays in a team that averages 50.5% possession. In comparison Raheem Sterling averages 32.7 short passes at an accuracy of 82.4% as Man City average 61.6% of possession. This shows Cantwell’s ability on the ball.

This is further backed up by his 1.9 dribbles per 90. His dribble success rate of 65.6% is very good to boot. With age his dribble success rate will increase as he will grow physically and know when to take his opponent on as shown by Eden Hazard’s success rate of 67% in his last season at Chelsea, an increase from his 47.7% in his first season with Chelsea.

Cantwell creates 1.3 chances per 90 for his teammates which isn’t very impressive, backed up by his 0.09 xA per 90. This is another thing that would increase with age and would increase further if he joined Leicester as he would be in a more dominant side with better attackers around him.

Ollie Watkins, £25 million

This season, Watkins has predominantly played as a striker for Thomas Frank’s Brentford. He has played 37 league games with 36 coming a striker and one appearance on the right wing although he can also play on the left or as an attacking midfielder.

Ollie has played 3320 league minutes out of a possible 3330 minutes showing not only his fitness but his importance to the team. The former Exeter star has scored 22 and assisted three as Brentford have scored the most goals this season with West Brom, both sides have 64 goals at the time of writing. This has made him the second top scorer in the league, only one behind Aleksandar Mitrović.

Despite being only 24 years old, Watkins is very mature. He takes 2.6 shots with only 0.2 coming from outside the box whilst creating 1.5 chances for his teammates showing his all-round game. This is very similar to Vardy as he takes 2.4 shots with 0.2 coming from outside the box and creates but only creates 0.6 chances for his side.

Ollie Watkins isn’t a great dribbler as he completes 0.7 per 90 from an attempted 1.2. This deficiency wouldn’t be a problem as Vardy attempts 1.4 but only completes 0.6 so in fact Watkins looks to be a better dribbler.

As Jamie Vardy is 33 years old, Leicester will have to move on from the former Fleetwood striker soon, with Ollie Watkins putting him similar numbers and being nine years his junior, the Brentford striker looks to be the perfect readymade replacement.

Saïd Benrahma, £30 million

Brentford’s other star, Benrahma has hit the ground running in London since joining from France for a reported £1.5 million. The 24-year-old has featuring on the left for the Bees but has played on the right wing before where he would most likely be playing if he joined Leicester.

The Algerian has ten goals and seven assists from 2765 league minutes in 2019/20. This is because he creates 2.5 chances for his teammates and takes an impressive 4.1 shots per 90. The reason he has only scored ten and not more from his 4.1 shots is down to his shot location, 2.5 of these shots come from outside of the box. If he wants to impress in the Premier League, this will have to improve but Brendan Rodgers didn’t solve a similar problem with Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool.

Another thing Benrahma will have to improve is his dribbling, he attempts 6.2 per 90 but only has a completion rate of 54.8%. His shot location and dribbling will naturally improve as he matures and gets older but if he wants to make an instant impact, this will have to improve sooner rather than later.

Benrahma would offer something different to Ayoze Pérez. The Spaniard wouldn’t offer as much going forward but off the ball is a hard worker which might mean he would be preferred in bigger games or if Leicester are looking to see a game out. However, Benrahma offers more output in an attacking sense but defensively the Algerian isn’t as strong.

When adjusted for possession, Benrahma completes 1.17 defensive actions (tackles and interceptions) per 90 compared to Pérez’s 2.48, over double what Saïd offers.

These players are Premier League ready and they’re ability would increase with age meaning if they wanted to, Leicester could turn a healthy profit on all of these within two seasons. Although together these four signings would cost roughly £105m and more in wages than what Maddison earns, this extra money spent will benefit the squad. Leicester will get extra money if they can qualify for European football. From their remaining nine games, the Foxes need 17 points to confirm a top six spot but 22 points to confirm a top four place, making it a realistic possibility that they will be playing in Europe next season.

If Norwich do get relegated and/or Brentford don’t get promoted, these transfers would be cheaper, this would save the 2015/16 Premier League champions money if they go for these players.

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