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Liverpool Chasing Norwich Starlet

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The cash-strapped Canaries may be forced to sell their most prized asset this summer.

Hull City v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship
I mean, get them while they’re young, I guess.
Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images

It is typically a rare thing, clubs going back for players they have previously missed out on. As a general rule, teams will move on to their second choice on the shortlist, and if the original target does well at their new club, they are unlikely to be available again for at least a few seasons, after which team dynamics will have changed so much as to make the initial interest obsolete.

Jürgen Klopp has proven himself the exception to this rule, however, consistently finding himself in position to sign players he failed to acquire earlier in his career. Former Borussia Dortmund target Roberto Firmino was already waiting for the German when he arrived at Anfield, and Sadio Mané — who Klopp had long been admiring — was brought in the following summer. Unable to clinch prompt deals for Naby Keïta and Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool waited 12 and 6 months, respectively, ultimately securing the players the manager wanted.

James Maddison may not carry the same weight as the names listed above, but he was targeted by the Anfield outfit when he was a talented young attacker at Coventry back in January of 2016, ultimately losing out to sneaky Norwich, for whom Maddison signed for a mere £2.5m on deadline day. The Coventry youth product spent a successful six months on loan at Aberdeen, notching a goal or assist every 108 minutes in the Scottish Premier League, and has been ever-present for the Canaries this season.

With 14 goals and 8 assists, the 21-year old sits fifth in the league in scoring, and ninth in assists, topping both statistics for his club. Sitting behind striker Nélson Oliveira, Maddison thrives in tight areas with his blitzing quick feet, consistently threatening with penetrating runs while looking for the killer ball or shot. A peach of a right peg, a constantly searching gaze, and some latent hero-ball tendencies draws an image not too dissimilar from the early efforts of a certain curly-haired Brazilian who used to ply his trade at Anfield.

Norwich are in a bit of financial trouble and will likely have to offload their most talented players in the summer, and have reportedly slapped a £30m price tag on Maddison, alerting Liverpool, Tottenham, and likely a number of other Premier League clubs to the player’s availability. It’s uncertain that spending that kind of dosh on a player whose natural position doesn’t exist in the manager’s preferred formation, and who would probably require some development before calling himself a bona fide starter for a Champions league side, is of interest to Liverpool right now, but as far as young English talent goes, Maddison looks like the real deal.