Manchester United: Is James Maddison the perfect Juan Mata replacement?


Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Leicester City attacking midfielder James Maddison. Could he be the perfect Juan Mata replacement?

Leicester City’s James Maddison impressed in his debut campaign in the Premier League last season.

The attacking midfielder began his career at League One side Coventry City before making the step up to the Championship with Norwich City in 2016.

Maddison moved up a division once more when he signed for Leicester in 2018 for a fee thought to be in the region of £20million.

The England Under-21 international went on to score seven league goals and register as many assists, helping the Foxes secure a respectable 9th place finish.

According to reports in the Manchester Evening News, Maddison could be on the verge of taking yet another big step in his career as Manchester United express interest in signing the Leicester City star.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is thought to be keen on bringing in young British talent this summer in his plan to overhaul his ageing squad at Old Trafford.

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One of the players at United who looks to be past his prime is 31-year-old Juan Mata. The Spanish international has struggled to play a full 90 minutes in recent campaigns and managed just three goals and four assists in the Premier League last season.

22-year-old Maddison would be a like-for-like replacement for Mata, being similarly gifted on the ball and sharing his eye for goal.

However, do United really need a Juan Mata replacement? Solskjaer tends to favour a 4-3-3 formation which does not allow for an attacking midfielder.

This has meant that Mata himself has tended to play as a right winger for the Red Devils. If Maddison does join the club this summer, wouldn’t he also be forced to play in an unnatural position?

Instead, it may be better if United signed players that best suit their current system – not direct replacements for current members of the squad.

Therefore, rather than acquiring a younger attacking midfielder to replace Mata, Solskajer should focus on signing a natural right winger who can provide real width on that side.

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So although James Maddison would be the perfect replacement for Juan Mata, he wouldn’t be a perfect fit for the system United will be playing next season.