Norwich City’s eleventh hour move for Coventry starlet, James Maddison surprised plenty of people in Norfolk with the audacity of the signing of one of country’s widely acknowledged young prospects.
The Coventry academy lad was heavily linked with Liverpool and rumours circulating in the hours after the transfer suggested the Reds had tried to hijack the move.
Talking about the signing, Alex Neil is in no doubt about the quality of his new lad and when talking to the EDP, revealed a little more about what went on that night. The 19yr old had a medical at St.George’s Park and Norwich paid an initial £2.5m with Coventry benefitting from an immediate loan back for the rest of the season.
The next day, reports in the Midlands suggested the fee for Maddison could rise to almost £10m depending on whether certain clauses and achievements are met.
‘We went after him aggressively. I think the fact we left it so late in the window certainly played into our favour,” said Neil. “If we had gone earlier we would have most likely lost him to a bigger team. I know there was one team in particular who were aggressively trying to not stop the deal but hi-jack it and we managed to get it across the line.
“We were pursuing another signing that night and we had money available for it. Unfortunately for us it didn`t transpire. We said and thought all along if we could add some more youth to the ranks for the club going forward then we wanted to highlight the best young players in the country, and he is certainly one who fell into that category. Once that other move didn`t go through we had money we wanted to put to good use and he was the one we highlighted.”
Neil is convinced Maddison has the talent to join a Premier League club and the old adage of ‘if he’s good enough then he’s old enough’ seems to apply.
“The bottom line is if he is ready and good enough it doesn`t matter what age he is,” he said. “He just has to be better or as good as the lads already here. There is no point in introducing young players if they are not as good. Physically, we need to do some work with him initially but there is no question about his talent.”
Let’s hope we’re still a Premier League club in the summer eh?!