Manchester United’s chances of signing Leicester City’s James Maddison in the summer have suffered a big setback as the player is set to sign a new contract with his current club.
It has been an open secret for some time that Maddison is at the top of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s transfer wishlist, and whilst the Foxes refused to sell him in the January window, United were expected to conclude a deal in the summer.
The 23-year-old fits the exact profile of a Solskjaer player: young, hardworking, attacking, creative, loyal and a childhood Manchester United fan.
United had believed that they could land Maddison for around £80 million in the summer, but the Foxes’ new contract offer signals their intent to keep their man.
The Telegraph has revealed that ‘Maddison’s representatives are in advanced negotiations over a lucrative long-term deal for the England international, with the club keen to conclude talks over the mid-winter break.’
The England international is currently on a £55,000 per week contract. The value of Leicester’s new offer is unknown at this stage but may be similar to that of top earner Jamie Vardy, who is on £140,000 per week.
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There will also be no release clause in the contract, according to The Telegraph.
With Leicester looking set to be able to offer Champions League football next season and United struggling to do so, even if the Red Devils were able to better such a package and agree a fee with the Midlands club, there would be little incentive for Maddison to leave the King Power Stadium at this stage.
Champions League qualification would also swell Leicester’s coffers and make it less necessary for them to do business. Leicester drove a hard bargain with the Reds for the transfer of £80 million man Harry Maguire, so with Maddison expected to play for England in Euro 2020 the price tag could soar to, or even beyond, the £100 million mark.
The arrival of Bruno Fernandes may soften the blow for United if indeed Maddison is about to be taken off the table, but Paul Pogba’s rumoured likely exit will still leave the Reds short of options in midfield.
Solskjaer may now need to turn his full attention to other options such as Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish or Ajax’s Donny van de Beek.