Outspoken pundits Roy Keane and Ian Wright clashed after the Irishman insisted joining Arsenal would be a “backward step” for a £60m target.
The Gunners have been heavily linked with bringing a creative force on board this summer. Signing Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal was one option the Gunners explored after impressing on loan last year. However, a report on Friday revealed Real Madrid have blocked the Norwegian’s exit due to fitness concerns over Toni Kroos.
As the chances of re-signing Odegaard began to wane, Arsenal’s attention began to turn to Leicester playmaker, James Maddison.
A cash-plus-player offer was reportedly rejected earlier in the month despite the player himself reportedly being receptive to the move.
The Foxes are under no pressure to sell the 24-year-old who is valued between the £60m-£70m mark. Nonetheless, an improved offer could materialise with the new season just around the corner.
When asked for his view on the prospective move, the Man Utd legend told ITV (via the Express): “Maybe he might just fancy a bit of change, maybe just fancy a bit of London? I don’t know.
“It’s a difficult one, [Jamie] Vardy had an opportunity to go to Arsenal – he turned it down.
“He got big money, turned it down, he got big money at Leicester let’s not kid ourselves. But Leicester, the group of players they have… they’ve got a new training ground.
“If he’s leaving Leicester, I don’t think Arsenal is the right option, if I was him I’d sit tight.”
Wright responds, but Keane doubles down
Gunners legend Wright was also on the panel and wasted little time leaping to his former side’s defence.
“Arsenal will be up there, the fact Arsenal are a team that are still trying to build and be where they want to be, players like Maddison is the kind of player Arsenal need to bring them back there,” said Wright.
“Like Liverpool, Manchester United before them have been through their mile-and-a-half of pipe like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption where you see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Arsenal need players like that but that’s where you’ve got to put respect on Arsenal’s name for trying to get back where they were.”
The final word went to Keane, however, with the explosive pundit declaring joining Mikel Arteta’s side would be a “backward step.”
“At this moment in time I don’t believe to leave Leicester where they are is a step up to go to Arsenal,” he added.
“Probably backwards [step] at this moment in time. Arsenal is a huge club. Leicester where they are challenging for the Champions League, they won a trophy last year. Arsenal are short yet.”