The former Manchester United captain gave a brutally honest verdict on reports linking James Maddison with a move to Arsenal.
Roy Keane has warned James Maddison that leaving Leicester City for Arsenal would be a ‘backwards step’ in his career.
The 24-year-old has emerged as a top target for Mikel Arteta as the Gunners boss seeks a new creative midfielder. He has developed into an important player for Leicester, who are reluctant to sell. In fact, Brendan Rodgers’ side demand at least £60 million for any potential deal.
This price tag has proved a problem for Edu. The Arsenal technical director tried to offer four fringe players to lower Leicester’s asking price, but the Foxes want cash and nothing else.
Speaking prior to Leicester’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield on Saturday, Keane gave his thoughts on the transfer.
“Arsenal are a huge club, but at this moment in time I don’t think it’s a step up for him to leave Leicester, where they are, to go to Arsenal,” said the Irishman on ITV Sport.
Asked if a move to the Emirates is a sideways step, Keane replied: “Probably backwards, at this moment in time.
“Arsenal are a huge club, but where Leicester are at the moment, trying to challenge for Champions League. They’re winning, they won a trophy [FA Cup] last year, Arsenal are short.”
Gunners legend Ian Wright responded: “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 him back there.”
Emile Heskey, who played for Leicester between 1994 and 2000, then settled the debate by saying: “Who holds all the cards? It’s Leicester. They don’t need to sell, you have to put on the table a good offer.”
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Roy Keane on rumours linking James Maddison to Arsenal 👀#LEIMCI pic.twitter.com/2qKfFSlC0z
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) August 7, 2021
The Vardy saga
To make his point, Keane referred to Arsenal’s failed attempt to lure Jamie Vardy in 2016. The Gunners made a £20 million bid for the striker after his goals helped fire Leicester to Premier League glory.
A deal between the clubs and the player himself was done. Vardy visited then-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger before he made a sudden U-turn by deciding to stay at Leicester. He remains at the King Power Stadium to this day.
On Maddison, Keane added: “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. 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.”