Premier League • England

Liverpool, Newcastle chase to sign England star handed final verdict as manager makes ‘absolute’ claim

James Maddison and Bukayo Saka

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has responded to claims James Maddison could leave for Liverpool or Newcastle United by saying the midfielder will ‘absolutely’ be remaining with the Foxes this winter.

Maddison was the subject of two Newcastle bids during the summer transfer window. Eddie Howe’s team submitted offers worth £40million and £50m, though neither met Leicester’s asking price.

Leicester said Maddison would only be sold if Newcastle spent £60m, and as they were unwilling to do this, the playmaker went nowhere.

He has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season with Leicester, notching seven goals and four assists in the Premier League and being one of Rodgers’ most important players.

Maddison’s electric form has led to more rumours he might depart the King Power, with a January exit apparently on the cards.

Newcastle remain big fans of his and are considering whether to make a third approach.

And Liverpool were linked with the England international on December 13. A report claimed Liverpool could completely revamp their midfield by landing Maddison, Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez.

After getting no game time for England at the World Cup, Maddison is now back at Leicester and preparing for their game against Newcastle on Boxing Day. At the pre-match press conference, Rodgers was asked if he had assurances from Leicester chiefs Maddison would not be sold. He replied (via the PA news agency): “Yes, absolutely. The key focus at the moment is getting him fit, getting him out on to the field again.

James Maddison is ‘someone I want to keep’ – Brendan Rodgers

“He’s someone I want to keep here. He’s a top player. But I’ve been given no indication that we have to do anything with James in January.

“I don’t think anything changes on that front.

“My focus is on improving the squad – that’s what I want to do.”

When asked about Newcastle bidding for Maddison in particular, Rodgers added: “I don’t know, ask Newcastle, not me.

“When you have good players, it’s a good sign, they’ll always be coveted by other teams. That’s OK, I’m confident those players will be here.

“Newcastle have signed players who have improved the dynamic of the team.

“They’re trying to build something there, they’ll improve and get better.

“I’m sure they’ll strengthen their squad, and they’ll have the motivation to stay there.”

Maddison would be a great signing for Newcastle as he is a proven match-winner in the Premier League. Landing him would give Newcastle a major boost in their push for Champions League qualification and, eventually, big trophies.

However, it is hard to see the 26-year-old joining them in January. Newcastle are wary about breaking Financial Fair Play regulations, so spending £60m on Maddison next month is unlikely.

Plus, Leicester will be desperate to keep him. After all, he has played a massive role in them moving up from the relegation zone and into 13th place.

If Leicester sold Maddison, this could entirely derail their hopes of having a successful campaign.

Meanwhile, Manchester United and Tottenham have been told to copy Liverpool by signing a ‘new Alisson’.