‘He is crucial for their game’ – Thwarting Maddison is the mission for City against Foxes
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James Maddison’s rise to stardom with Leicester and England may have made Daniel Farke proud – but there will be no room for sentiment when Norwich City try to thwart the creative midfielder on Saturday afternoon.
The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals and assisted another 10 during his 51 Premier League games since being sold by the Canaries in a club record deal worth an initial £21million in the summer of 2018, and made his senior England debut as a substitute during a 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley in Euro 2020 qualifying last month.
"It's well deserved. James, since I was able to work with him, was always there with a great attitude," Farke said of the former City playmaker's progress. "I can remember the time when I arrived and he was still a bit like a kid and we had to build him up a lot in physical terms and work on his physical positioning, also in his tactical understanding of the game.
"But he was also, although he was that young, he was greedy to improve each and every day.
"He is a confident lad but he still finds a good balance. You have to be confident on this level when you want to play in the key role but also to be unbelievably greedy and self-critical to improve your game more or less on a daily basis.
"Of course we were sad when he left us but sometimes you have to accept that the player is sometimes a bit quicker in their development than the club is. It was also a crucial deal in order to keep the club running because of a lot of financial pressure."
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Maddison faces the Canaries for the first time since his exit, as the reigning player of the season, as the second placed Foxes look for their ninth consecutive victory.
Farke continued: "Our fingers were of course crossed for him on this big stage and on the Premier League level and we get the feeling he has done fantastic so far, improving from week to week even on this level.
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"He is playing for a side who are sitting in position two in the best league in the world and he plays a key role for them, more or less in the number 10 position.
"He delivers with goals and assists, he is crucial for their game and he totally deserved that he got the call-up for the national squad. Even when he was wearing the shirt with the little Three Lions at (under-21 level), we were speaking about that one day you have to wear the shirt with the proper Three Lions.
"It's totally deserved and I'm pretty sure if he can go further on with this attitude and also with this balance to stay grounded with both feet on the ground, then he will have a great future.
"It will be great to see him, it's always great to see him on the pitch, but one thing that is also for sure is that we want to make it as difficult as possible, also for him in that area.
"So nice to see him but we are focused on our game."