Is this the time Norwich City waves goodbye to James Maddison?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Could James Maddison's Norwich City career come to an end this week?
After weeks of speculation, there are reports of the first solid bids going in for the highly-rated midfielder.
There is no white smoke coming out of the Carrow Road chimney just yet – the club are making no comment – but Maddison's exit is inevitable; the only question is where he ends up. Southampton and Leicester are reported to have made the first moves, with bids in the region of £20m.
And while it remains speculation, the truth is City won't mind two clubs (at least) prepare to do battle over their prized asset: the 'bidding war' – if indeed one does materialise – can only help at a club which desperately needs to make ends meet.
Having banked an estimated £11m last week from the sale of Josh Murphy to Cardiff City and Marley Watkins to Bristol City, Maddison Money would go a long way to making up the parachute payment shortfall.
The nuts and bolts of the weekend speculation started with SunSport reporting that Southampton – who narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight – were on the brink of pulling off a major coup, having been involved in '48 hours of tough negotiations' with the Canaries.
But then came The Telegraph claim that Leicester City were first to make a move, with a similar bid of around £20m.
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Whoever is in the driving seat it does look like months of speculation over Maddison's future could be reaching a climax.
Maddison was signed from Coventry in February, 2016 and was loaned back before spending a season at Aberdeen.
He signed a new deal last summer, taking him up to 2021, and started 42 league games for City last season, ending as top scorer with 14 goals and taking away the coveted Player of the Season award.
His exit has been accepted by most City fans – but they have a very different on Ben Godfrey, back at City after a successful loan season at Shrewsbury and now said to be interesting Crystal Palace, West Brom and Swansea. The 20-year-old midfielder is seen by many as a great hope for the future – a future that without Maddison is already likely to be difficult enough.