‘I’m not so sure Norwich were convinced’ - Maddison story could have had a different ending, reveals former boss

James Maddison had a breakthrough season at Norwich City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

James Maddison had a breakthrough season at Norwich City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

James Maddison has gone from having to convince the doubters at Carrow Road to a Premier League star in the making.

The midfield prodigy completed a club record move from Norwich City to Leicester City this week, after a stunning season in green and yellow.

That came after the 21-year-old had previously proved his worth on loan at Aberdeen, where Dons' chief Derek McInnes has revealed all bets were off when former City chief Alex Neil sanctioned a four-month spell in 2016.

'We came close to extending his loan for a year,' said McInnes. 'He was looking for a bit of encouragement from Norwich. He felt he had done his time at Aberdeen, gained a lot from it and was ready to play first-team football for them.

'I'm not so sure Norwich were convinced about that.

'But they must have given him enough encouragement to stay.

'I have to take my hat off to him for what he's achieved, his statistics in the Championship last season shows what a special player he is.

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'He impacts on games, he had the most assists in the Championships last season and that is worth its weight in gold. When you watch him he looks capable of playing in any league and in any company.'

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Maddison also made his England Under-21 debut last season, but the groundwork was actually started by Norfolk-bred FA technical director Dan Ashworth during the midfielder's Pittodrie stay.

'I remember speaking to the FA's technical director Dan Ashworth about the 21s and he asked me if James was ready for that step and I thought he was,' said McInnes, speaking to the Daily Record.

'Dan said he was in the frame for selection and when I told James it was as though he'd won the lottery. James told me, 'That's it, that's my next step and that's what I've been working towards'.

'This is a boy who sets himself goals. He wanted to play at Norwich so he went out on loan at Aberdeen to help him do that and then he wants a big move so he's now achieved that.

'Serious players like James plot a path and know what's needed to take the next step. We still keep in touch and it's great to see his time developing at Aberdeen has accelerated his development.

'James is one of a select type of footballer that is capable of producing big moments.

'When you start to look at those types of players as you go up the levels, you pay big money for them as Leicester have shown.

'A lot of managers have asked me about James as people are always looking for that type of player and he has a valuation because he's in that special bracket.'