Photo by TIM KEETON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

You get the feeling Thierry Henry would have enjoyed playing alongside James Maddison. 

But with the Arsenal legend long-since retired, it may be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe who find themselves racing on to one of the playmaker’s perfectly weighted through balls at the Emirates next season.

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It’s no secret Mikel Arteta was desperate to keep Martin Odegaard in north London. The Real Madrid loanee caught the eye during six short months in red and white thanks to his leadership skills and insatiable work ethic as much as his craft and guile. 

But while the Norwegian quickly became a firm favourite among Arsenal staff and fans, memories of Odegaard will quickly fade into the ether if Maddison takes his place at the heart of Arteta’s midfield. 

Is James Maddison to Arsenal a realistic transfer?

Now, the chances of Maddison swapping Leicester for Arsenal may feel slim – and not just because the Foxes are hurtling in the right direction under Brendan Rodgers while the misfiring Gunners have just endured their worst season since the turn of the century. 

According to the Daily Mail, however, there’s a quiet confidence a deal for one of the Premier League’s most influential and technically gifted attacking midfielders can be done before 31 August – even if a price tag in the region of £70 million looks prohibitive on paper.  

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

While Arsenal on the pitch often leave a lot to be desired, off it there’s a real sense of excitement building on the red half of north London.

The Gunners are going full steam ahead in their attempts to land Sambi Lokonga and Ben White, while ambitious deals for Jules Kounde, Achraf Hakimi and Eduardo Camavinga are also being discussed. 

Maddison, however, would be the glacier cherry on top of a very tasty cake.

“Keep on doing what you’re doing because I love the way you’re playing,” the legendary Henry told Maddison during an Instagram live session for PUMA Football. 

“I like to watch players like you. (Players) that think. Thinking is important in the game and there’s one thing we don’t use often, which is our brain.” 

Maddison’s cheeky chappy personality may rub some up the wrong way – Stan Collymore in particular – but Henry sees no reason why a player with such iron-clad self-confidence shouldn’t be encouraged to express himself as he sees fit. 

After all, it’s not as though Maddison doesn’t have the talent to back up his belief.  

“Don’t be scared of having a big ego,” Henry added. 

Good advice. 

That advice could serve Maddison well if he ends up following in Henry’s footsteps at one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in Britain. 

(Visionhaus/Visionhaus)

In other news, Report: Newcastle in talks to sign 'frightening' winger to £245k-a-week deal in January