Arsenal have identified Leicester City midfielder James Maddison as their top transfer target to replace Martin Odegaard, according to reports.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta wanted Odegaard to extend his stay at the Emirates following his successful loan spell, but the 22-year-old has returned to Real Madrid and will now try to force his way into the club’s first-team plans.
Having been forced to look elsewhere for a creative midfielder, Arsenal have placed England international Maddison high on their list of targets.
The 24-year-old, who was narrowly omitted from England’s Euro 2020 squad, signed a new four-year deal at Leicester last summer worth around £100,000 a week.
He enjoyed a superb spell for the Foxes last season – scoring or assisting 14 times in 16 matches – before suffering an injury that ruled him out of much of the second-half of the campaign and damaged his Euros chances.
Maddison is not desperate to leave the King Power Stadium and Leicester showed how much they value the player last summer when they rejected a £70m offer for his signature.
Their resolve looks set to be tested again this summer, however, with MailSport claiming that Arsenal want to bring him to north London and believe they can strike a deal with their Premier League rivals.
Mikel Arteta is looking for a replacement for Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard (Picture: Getty)
Maddison has thrived at Leicester since signing from Norwich City in 2018 and helped the Foxes finish fifth in the Premier League last season, three places and five points above Arteta’s Arsenal.
It was another disappointing campaign for the Gunners, who, as well as flattering to deceive in the Premier League, also suffered a dismal defeat to former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Speaking last month, Arteta admitted Arsenal had already started planning for the summer transfer window, with the Spaniard also keen to sign a defender and a forward.
He said: ‘We are planning everything for the summer, the same with the board, with [chief executive] Vinai [Venkatesham], with [non-executive director] Tim [Lewis], and with the owners.
‘We are very clear on how we want to do it. When you have to change 10 or 12 things in one window [as in January] it’s a lot, and that has some consequences with what has happened in previous months and what is going to happen in the following months.
‘We still have quite a lot of things to do, but we will get to the point, hopefully, where it’s just ticking off a few things and the stability is there, because you need that as well to be consistent and be competitive.’