‘You have just got to ignore that’ – Former Canaries star laughs off rumours of big-money move
PUBLISHED: 08:59 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:19 17 June 2019
Transfer speculation will not distract James Maddison from England Under-21 duty in the next few weeks, the former Norwich City favourite has said ahead of his European Championship action.
The midfielder has been linked with Premier League big boys Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United recently after an excellent debut top-flight campaign with Leicester.
The talented 22-year-old was sold to the Foxes last summer in a deal worth up to £25million after a superb season for the Canaries. With a 15 percent sell-on fee - of any profit made - believed to have been part of that package, talk of a potential move worth in the region of a huge £60m is certainly of interest to City fans at the moment.
"You have just got to ignore that and take it all in your stride," Maddison said ahead of the Young Lions' Group C opener against France on Tuesday.
"As a 17 year-old boy I'd started maybe five games for Coventry and saw on my phone that I was being linked with Tottenham and Liverpool. I was thinking 'am I?'. I was calling my agent and asking him.
"With transfer talk, rumours, speculation, you need to take it in your stride, take it as a compliment that people are even writing that and get on with my football because that's what I'm here to do."
Asked if it will distract him while in Italy and San Marino for the tournament, Maddison laughed it off, replying: "Not in the slightest."
The Coventry City academy product scored 15 goals and claimed 11 assists from 49 games during 2017-18 for Norwich to earn his move to Leicester and was soon impressing in the Premier League.
Seven goals and seven assists from 36 top-flight games has kept his name in the thick of media speculation, having earned his first England senior call-up during the season, although he is yet to win his first cap.
Former City keeper Angus Gunn is also in the U21 squad for the tournament, with Tuesday's opener against France (8pm UK time), followed by games against Romania on Friday and Croatia next Monday.
In 2017 the tournament ended in semi-final defeat to Germany for Aidy Boothroyd's squad, after a 2-2 draw was followed by a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat, with former Norwich winger Nathan Redmond missing the crucial spot-kick.
"This tournament is going to be better experience for me than what sitting on the bench at the Nations League would have been (with the senior squad)," Maddison continued, speaking to Sky Sports - who are screening the games live.
"I have been asked that a few times and I will never look at it and think 'should I be with the seniors?'.
"I am never going to be disappointed representing the U21s with my country, I am excited and proud that I'm here.
"I feel like I'm a much more experienced player now on and off the pitch, I look around at lunch and think me and Demarai (Gray) are the old men here!
"There are little things I can help those younger lads with and in terms of game management. I have played over 150 games now at club level, I definitively think I'm a more senior professional now."