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Maddison Arsenal transfer urged by legend, plus Balogun prediction

Arsenal legend Michael Thomas has spoken exclusively to CaughtOffside to give us his verdict on several of the transfer rumours surrounding the club at the moment.

The Gunners great, who scored *that* title-winning goal for the club away to Liverpool in 1989, admits he’s a big fan of Leicester City star James Maddison and would love to see him move to the Emirates Stadium.

MORE: Arsenal legend praises England star’s impact at Euro 2020

Thomas feels Maddison looks like he could be a fine fit for Mikel Arteta’s tactics, and isn’t overly concerned by the fact that he’s not currently managed to cement himself as part of the England set-up, missing out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2020 this summer.

James Maddison to Arsenal?

“I like Maddison and I am definitely for Arsenal pushing this move through,” Thomas told CaughtOffside. “We need to act fast, and also deal with the other issues in the squad at the same time. Hopefully we can then get the players in for a full pre-season where possible, ready for the first game.

James Maddison

James Maddison could be a fine signing for Arsenal

“Maddison has the quality to play as a 10 or 8, which would be beneficial as I think Arteta’s preferred formation is with two 8’s.

“Injuries have hampered his England career thus far so hopefully he can have a season injury free and prove how much quality he’s got.”

No worries over Emile Smith Rowe’s future

Thomas does not believe there’s any prospect of losing Emile Smith Rowe to Aston Villa this summer, with the former midfielder admitting he simply can’t see the logic in the youngster looking to leave the Emirates Stadium right now.

“I am not concerned at all if I am honest. Emile Smith Rowe is a young player, Arsenal through and through,” Thomas said.

“He had a very good season last year and played a lot of games. Arteta clearly has a lot of faith in him along with the rest of the Arsenal board.

“If you were ESR why would you move to another club to get the same game time anyway?”

Time for Granit Xhaka to move on

Thomas has also spoken about players who don’t look to have long-term futures at Arsenal, saying he wouldn’t be too surprised or bothered about Granit Xhaka leaving, with the Switzerland international too often making costly errors, which can be masked by the good things he does.

“We all know about Xhaka’s qualities, that’s for sure, but there are a few things we cannot forget,” Thomas said.

Granit Xhaka looking for a pass for Arsenal

Granit Xhaka has struggled for consistency at Arsenal

“For me, Xhaka makes too many mistakes, and some one-off performances in big games can sometimes mask these.”

Folarin Balogun could push Eddie Nketiah out

Thomas is tipping young striker Folarin Balogun for more of a role in Mikel Arteta’s side next season, but he expects that might mean it’s time for fellow academy player Eddie Nketiah to leave for first-team football elsewhere.

“I love that Arsenal are bringing young players from the academy into the first team fold, and that’s always been the case even from my time,” Thomas said.

Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun is being tipped for a bigger role at Arsenal next season

“Nketiah may find it hard to get enough game time given where the club is as a team right now. Arsenal need a striker who is going to score every week and that is a big ask for Nketiah so I do think he would benefit from a move away.

“Balogun looks as though he will be getting a chance in the first team fold this coming season too, so game time will be limited for him.”

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