Mikel Arteta has identified Leicester City star James Maddison as a midfield target for Arsenal, according to reports.
Arteta is yet to make a signing during his first transfer window as Arsenal manager, but the club continue to be linked with a number of players.
According to Football Insider, Arteta has now set his eyes on Leicester and England creator Maddison.
Despite Brendan Rodgers’ pleas that Maddison will be going nowhere in January – and with Leicester currently above Arsenal in the table – the playmaker is delaying on the club’s offer of a new contract.
Manchester United have been heavily linked with Maddison, as they look to add more quality to their midfield – especially with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay out with injuries.
The former Norwich City star fits the profile of player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking for, as he continues his policy of targeting talented English youngsters wanting to prove themselves at the top.
One respected pundit has urged Maddison to snub United and stay at Leicester this month, and that’s not the only obstacle the Red Devils will face in the race to sign him.
Arsenal are looking for midfield quality of their own, with Mesut Ozil struggling to live up to his high standards in recent years.
Arteta is confident that Arsenal could offer him the regular gametime at the top level he needs to become an established England international, having only received one senior cap so far.
Manchester City – who unlike United and Arsenal, are actually above Leicester in the league at present – are also said to be interested in the 23-year-old, who remains under contract at the King Power Stadium until 2023.
The news comes as Arsenal are said to have been overtaken in the race for another midfielder, Athletico Paranaense’s Bruno Guimaraes.
The Brazilian club’s president has revealed that the Gunners have expressed an interest in signing the 22-year-old in the summer, but Portuguese side Benfica are set to beat them to it after submitting an official offer.
Guimaraes plays in more of a defensive midfield role than Maddison – who was rejected by Man Utd for just £5m when still a Coventry City player four years ago.
“For two minutes I’m going to go all Arsene Wenger here because when Maddison was in the process of leaving Coventry City because the club’s financial crisis meant they had to sell their best players, Maddison even then was considered one of the best players,” transfer consultant Ian McGarry revealed recently.
“I contacted someone I knew at Manchester United in their recruitment department and said look you’re going to get a bargain here, this guy’s going to be a huge player in the future and he’s available for around £5m and he’s also a Manchester United fan.
“They didn’t take any notice. Manchester United could have had Maddison four years ago.
“In saying that there’s no guarantee he would have developed the way he did at Norwich and then Leicester.”