Claude Puel welcomes interest in James Maddison but insists player should stay at Leicester

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James Maddison has impressed since stepping up from the Championship.

Boss Claude Puel has welcomed Tottenham’s interest in James Maddison because it proves his methods are working – but insists he should stay at Leicester.

Spurs hold a long-standing interest in the midfielder and have again been linked with a summer move.

Maddison is in his first season at Leicester after joining from Norwich for £24million and has five goals in 25 games, earning a senior England call in October.

Leicester face Spurs at Wembley on Sunday and Puel feels interest in his players compliments the Foxes.

He said: “It’s a good feeling because if we play with poor performances and no possibility to develop players then other clubs wouldn’t be interested.

Puel's decision to take off midfielder Maddison against United was jeered by some sections of the home fans.

Puel’s decision to take off midfielder Maddison against United was jeered by some sections of the home fans.

“It shows we’re developing our players, not just young ones – this is a good thing.

“Of course he is better off here – not just this player. Interest from other clubs means they are showing their quality. But he’s still got a lot to learn and room to develop. This is the right place to work.

“Lots of players in our club are attracting interest from other clubs. This is a good feeling because they have time to develop their work and themselves.

“Leicester is a good club and we are showing the project we are trying to put in place.”

Maddison penned a five-year contract when he moved to the King Power Stadium in June.

But Puel was hesitant to stay the Foxes would be ready to give him a bumper new deal to keep him.

“This player is just starting his career in the Premier League so he needs to keep focus and concentration,” he added.

Puel was jeered for substituting Maddison in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United and he has taken him off in eight of the last 10 games.

But the Frenchman insisted the 22-year-old is not the complete player and needs to improve.

He said: “For young players, they need to show good consistency in games for 90 minutes. Maddison is a young player and has not shown consistency all the time.

“It’s normal for young players. At the beginning of the season he was more clinical and needs to find this edge again.

“It’s not easy for young players to keep the same level of consistency and concentration all the time. They have possibilities to make mistakes because we are patient with them.”

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Maurizio Sarri believes Jorginho and Fernandinho hold key to Man City v Chelsea

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Maurizio Sarri wants Jorginho to show his credentials as Chelsea‘s great dictator in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Manchester City.

Both City and Sarri’s Chelsea like to dominate possession, with central playmaker Jorginho key to the Blues’ style and substance.

That is where Sarri believes the match will be decided, rather than by the likes of Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuain for the visitors, or Sergio Aguero and company for the hosts.

Sarri said: “It will be really very difficult to be in control of the match. The match is there (in midfield), more than in the strikers.”

Jorginho has made the most passes in the Premier League this season (2,219; no assists), while Fernandinho is key for City, allowing his flashier team-mates to flourish.

Jorginho has played more passes than anyone in the Premier League this season, but has no assists.

Jorginho has played more passes than anyone in the Premier League this season, but has no assists.

Sarri, though, is adamant stopping Chelsea is not as simple as nullifying Jorginho, who followed him to Stamford Bridge from Napoli; likewise with Fernandinho and City.

“They are able to play if you stop Fernandinho and also we’re able to play if you stop Jorginho,” Sarri added.

“We have options. Maybe they have more options than us because they have worked on this for three seasons.

“But I remember that in Naples it wasn’t a big problem if there was a man on Jorginho, so I hope it will be the same here in the future.”

The battle for possession will be an intriguing one, with City accustomed to having their own way, especially at home, where they have scored 43 goals in 13 league games.

Sarri added: “I expect Guardiola’s team want to always be in control of the match, always in possession of the ball and they’re able to do it. So it’s a very difficult match.

“We are used to having the ball and possession so on Sunday it will be very different.

“We will try to play our football, but if they are able to play their football, of course, you have to stay lower (deeper).”

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven fixtures against the defending champions, having ended City’s 21-match unbeaten run in the league on December 8.

That came as a surprise to many, with Sarri on Friday admitting his side were “lucky” in the win, built on strong defence and taking goalscoring opportunities, through N’Golo Kante and David Luiz.

Fernandinho will be equally as key for City.

Fernandinho will be equally as key for City.

Strikers were conspicuous by their absence that day, with Hazard deployed as Chelsea’s ‘false nine’.

Higuain’s arrival has reduced the likelihood of Hazard being required to lead the line, but Sarri refused to rule out that possibility at the Etihad Stadium.

He added: “The situation is not like the other match, so I can decide something different or have a ‘false nine’.”

There has been a nine-goal swing in Chelsea’s last two performances.

A 4-0 loss at Bournemouth – Chelsea’s worst in the Premier League since September 1996 – was followed by a 5-0 win over bottom club Huddersfield, when Higuain and Hazard each scored twice.

Sarri expressed hope, rather than conviction, that Chelsea will be at their best at City. “Now we know very well we need consistency. I hope our version on Sunday will be the best,” he added.

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Chelsea clash will prove if Man City are back on track in title race, says Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola believes Sunday’s clash against Chelsea will prove whether Manchester City are back on track in the title race or not.

City won the Premier League by a record margin last season but are involved in a tighter battle with Liverpool this time, while Spurs cannot be discounted.

City have already lost four games – twice as many as last term – but given the difficulties teams have had in retaining the title in recent years, Guardiola feels his side are very well placed.

Now he wants City to build on that to become the first team to win back-to-back league crowns in a decade.

Guardiola said: “I have known in the last five or six years the position where the champions will be the year after – all of them were out and didn’t have a chance to win the Premier League.

“However, we are there. That is what I like the most this season. So when people say that we underestimated Newcastle, we underestimated teams in Europe or whatever, I say we are in the Carabao Cup final and in all the competitions we are fighting.

Chelsea are one of the four teams to beat City this term.

Chelsea are one of the four teams to beat City this term.

“In the last two seasons Leicester and Chelsea had no chance, but we are there at the top.

“That is what I like the most but we want to be there until the end. If we win against Chelsea it will help us, and I am sure we will be there fighting to be champions again.”

Chelsea are one of the four teams to have beaten City this season, winning their meeting at Stamford Bridge in early December.

It was City’s first league loss of the campaign, with further defeats to Crystal Palace, Leicester and Newcastle highlighting areas of weakness in Guardiola’s squad.

One of them is the lack of a back-up to Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, who at 33 will also need to be replaced before too long.

This is likely to be one of the top priorities when summer recruitment plans are drawn up.

Guardiola said: “The scouting department is always looking for players for different positions, and you never know what is going to happen.

“We have some options and are looking for some (more) options but today it is not easy to find the player and to buy the player, so we will see. Until summer, we have time. We are trying to help Fernandinho in that position.”

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