James Maddison is the buy of the summer and Tottenham’s new talisman at the heart of Postecoglou’s flamboyant rebuild

JAMES MADDISON is proving to be nothing short of a revelation since at Tottenham.

After losing the firepower and creativity of Harry Kane, Spurs had been left sweating over how the rest of their misfiring attack would take shape under new boss Ange Postecoglou.

GettyJames Maddison has proven to be an invaluable addition to Tottenham[/caption]

GettyMaddison is thriving under Ange Postecoglou[/caption]

However, those pre-season fears have been eased thanks to the brilliant start made by Maddison after joining from Leicester for £45million.

With the 23/24 season now four games old we see Spurs sitting 4th in the Premier League having won three games and drawn one.

While the tactical setup of Postecoglou is rightly getting a lot of praise, Maddison’s performances in midfield have been the catalyst for Spurs’ strong performances.

This fantastic start has seen the 26-year-old voted as the best summer signing by Premier League agents.

And while there have been more high-profile moves this summer, it is clear to count Maddison a crucial player if Spurs are to mount a Champions League charge this season.

But how exactly is he doing it?

Clever positioning in the final third

Over the course of the last two or three seasons, we had seen Kane develop his game as he started to drop deeper to receive the ball before progressing the ball.

The fact that Kane was capable of this while also remaining the most prolific goal-scoring threat for club and country was a mark of his quality.


Replacing Kane then meant that Spurs needed a player who was capable of linking the midfield and attack and providing the threat to break down opposition defensive blocks.

So far this season Maddison has been superb as this player. Spurs have lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Maddison operating as the 10 in the line of three behind the striker.

In these positions, the English international midfielder has the freedom to move from side to side as well as coming deep or pushing forward to support the lone striker.

Maddison shows intelligent movement in the final third

Maddison has been the key man for Spurs this season

Maddison was outstanding against Burnley

Here, in the match against Burnley, we see him drifting away from the closest defender to give his team-mate in possession a passing angle to move the ball inside.

When he receives he has so much space that he can take a positive touch forward before driving towards goal.

Maddison displays a real ability to find pockets of space in the opposition half. He is strong when it comes to the timing of his movement to pull away from his opponent in order to find space.

He is constantly moving and shifting positions in the attacking phase to create passing options for his teammates between the opposition midfield and defensive lines.

These were the positions that we typically saw Kane look to occupy for Spurs last season to help them to progress the ball. But it meant Spurs never actually had a central striker playing high and occupying central defenders.

Now, with Maddison acting as the link between midfield and attack, Spurs have a central striker positioned high and a creative link player in the midfield.

Maddison often finds good space between the lines

This time against Brentford, Maddison finds space between eight opposition players to receive the ball.

As Bissouma plays the through ball into Maddison he can again take a positive touch and attack towards the opposition goal.

The 4-2-3-1 system suits Maddison’s game perfectly and he has been the key player for Spurs so far this season when they are attack into the opposition half.

Creative passing around the penalty area

With Kane having left the club we have seen Spurs give the Brazilian international forward Richarlison the opportunity to play as the central striker in the 4-2-3-1 system.

Richarlison is, of course, capable of playing slightly deeper or even playing from the wide spaces.

But so far this season we have seen Postecoglou asking his lone striker to play on the shoulder of the last defender and to look for opportunities to make quick attacking runs beyond the last man.

In order for this to be effective, of course, Spurs need to have a player in the attacking phase who can play passes that are perfectly judged and weighted to find that run.

This season Maddison has been excellent at getting on the ball and then looking for opportunities to slip teammates behind the defensive line with creative through balls.

When Maddison was at Leicester City he was at times used deeper in midfield, as more of an 8, or even wide on the left.

These positions failed to get the most out of him as he is at his best when receiving centrally and in advanced positions.

Maddison had 62 touches of the ball against Man Utd

Maddison’s dynamism makes him a threat for any defence

Maddison is a dynamic attacking player who can carry the ball with his head up before bringing teammates into play.

Above, we see him driving through the midfield against Bournemouth and his movement triggers the run of Richarlison.

Maddison then has the quality to play the through ball to find the run of the Brazilian striker.

Being able to find creative passes in the attacking phase though is not only about a player being a good passer.

They not only have to have the vision to find the run and judge the correct angle of the pass, but also the range to play these passes from longer or closer to the opposition goal where the weight of the pass has to be judged perfectly.

Arguably this was something that Spurs were missing over the last few seasons, even with the performances of the likes of Kane, and if Maddison was in place earlier then it is likely that Kane would have scored even more goals.

Maddison often has a good weight of pass

Here, we have an example of the ability that Maddison has to play through balls in tighter spaces closer to the opposition goal.

In these positions, he has the touch needed to thread passes between the defensive line and the opposition goalkeeper in order to create scoring opportunities.

With a player like Maddison acting as the creative hub of the team, we now see Spurs in a position to release their attacking players into more advanced positions.

The strikers and wingers know if they look to make aggressive runs behind the defensive line they are now more likely to receive a pass.

Helping his team to progress from deep

For all that Maddison is thriving so far this season with the ability to play higher up the pitch and to affect the game in the final third, he still has the freedom to play deeper.

There were times when he played for Leicester when he was used far too deep without the ability to move into higher positions and his performances suffered as a result.

But now Spurs coaching team are allowing Maddison to have more of a free role in terms of his movement and positioning.

And when the opposition sit deep Maddison drops deeper to get on the ball.

Maddison has freedom to play across the pitch

Maddison is allowed to roam the pitch to pick up the ball

Here we see how with Burnley sitting off and defending in a deep block, Maddison has dropped off to receive the ball from one of his central defenders.

He then quickly moves the ball to shift the angle of the attack before moving into a more advanced position.

With Maddison’s vision and passing range, he is able to drop in to receive the ball in front of the defensive block before then moving the ball quickly out of pressure to allow his team to attack down the side of a deep block or through the centre if the opportunity is there.

Maddison is also a strong ball carrier, and when the opposition are pressing high he will drop in to receive the ball to allow his team to play through pressure.

He can then beat an opposition player 1v1 before moving the ball into space.

We saw this in the match against Manchester United when Maddison was able to receive the ball on the edge of his own area before outplaying the press from United’s midfield and driving forward.

Maddison’s ability to play out from deep is also a crucial element of Spurs with him

Here, against Man Utd we again see Maddison receive the ball from the central defender in a deeper position before driving through the midfield.

His range and use of the ball is typically very good and when he plays the ball out to release the right-back into space he then makes quick movements into more advanced areas.

Maddison can help Spurs to progress the ball in a variety of ways.

He can act as the player who takes positions between the lines and allows his team-mates to play progressive passes into his feet or body or he can drop deeper to get on the ball and be the player who is looking to break a line with a pass or change the angle of the attack.

What does this mean?

Realistically it is far too early to say whether Maddison is the best signing of the summer transfer window.

There is still too much football to be played and judging transfers with any accuracy is difficult to do without a lot of hindsight.

We would argue though that in terms of the impact he is having on his new team and in terms of being exactly the type of player and profile Spurs need, Maddison will be right up there at the end of the season.

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