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£22m for an Injured Player – Is it Worth the Gamble for Leicester?

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Whilst the World Cup 2018 comes to and end in Russia, only a handful of Premier League clubs have seen fit to make moves in the transfer market.
Some will have dallied, hoping their own players might increase in value, or they may have held off to get a good view of the talent on display. Leicester City did not, swooping for Norwich’s talented midfield James Maddison and forking out £22m for his services.

Double-digit transfer fees are not uncommon these days, but it is a huge amount to be shelling out on a player who has just one full season of Championship football behind him. Even more surprising, James Maddison has arrived at the King Power Stadium injured.

Leicester have taken a punt on a player who picked up a knee injury in the final game of the season at Norwich City, a disappointing 5-1 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday. One can only imagine the horror as Daniel Farke saw his most saleable asset come off injured, fearing a complete collapse in his fee.

Maddison has enjoyed a swift rise from League One to Premier League and his arrival will doubtless improve Leicester’s odds in the latest Premier League betting. His switch was the most significant of the early summer, but just eighteen months ago he was out on loan at Aberdeen, struggling to impose himself on the Norwich first team.

Maddison started out at Coventry City an attacking midfielder, standing at ‘just’ 5ft 9in tall and getting limited game time. In 2014/15, he made 12 League One appearances, scoring twice. In 2015/16, he repeated that feat, which was enough to tempt Norwich to snap him up and immediately loan him back to Coventry.

One thing Norwich have a track record in doing is just that, with Sean Raggett experiencing the same when he signed on at Carrow Road from Lincoln, as did Tristan Abraham when joining from Leyton Orient. It’s an investment strategy but with Maddison, it paid dividends. Eventually.

He made 11 more appearances for Coventry, scoring again before going back to Norwich, who had just dropped out of the top flight. After just three starts and one goal, he was loaned out to Aberdeen.

Only at the start of the 2017/18 season did Maddison break through, but what a way to do so. He missed just five league games and scored 15 times in all competitions from midfield. His creativity and guile in pressing forward stood out in an average Norwich side and at just 21 years old, he finally started turning heads.

Crucially, he remained injury free and even when that final day knock on the knee forced him out of the side, Leicester remained interested. Initial fears were that he might miss up to six months, costing him and Norwich dearly. Instead, a scan revealed damage that would take ten weeks to heal and wouldn’t require surgery.

Once upon a time, that could have torpedoed the move, but the swift advances being made in medical science meant Leicester could conduct a medical around the current injury. That wouldn’t have been done lightly, not with £22m riding on it, but Maddison passed and became on Foxes player.

Now the England U21 international has the world at his feet and has the brave new world of sports science to thank for ensuring his massive transfer went through without a hitch.