Will James Maddison become better than Christen Eriksen ever was?

James Maddison (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
James Maddison (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

James Maddison has played seven matches for Tottenham Hotspur since making the switch from Leicester City in June. Not only has the midfielder asserted himself as Spurs’ Transfer of the Summer, but he’s on track to claim the Premier League’s Transfer of the Season title as well.

Across his first seven games as a member of Lilywhites, Maddison has contributed two goals and four assists, while maintaining an average match rating of 8.18 according to FotMob. Maddison capped off his incredible September with two assists against Arsenal in the North London Derby, en route to winning the Premier League Player of the Month Award.

With his presence in attacking midfield filling the void left by the great Christian Eriksen, and his leadership and character in the locker room being so profound that he was named an alternate captain just two months into his Tottenham tenure, it begs the question; Will James Maddison go down as the Eriksen replacement Spurs have longed for, or is he on pace to blow the Dane out of the water?

James Maddison has some huge shoes to fill

By all accounts, Christen Eriksen was a cult icon for Tottenham Hotspur. The Dane made 305 appearances for Spurs across seven seasons, managing 69 goals and 90 assists in all competitions. Joining the club as a part of that seven-man haul brought in using the funds from the departure of Gareth Bale in 2013, Eriksen made the No. 10 role in Tottenham’s midfield his own. Between title challenges in 2015/16 and 2017/18 and the storybook run to the 2019 Champions League Final, Eriksen has played an integral role in all of Tottenham’s recent drives towards success.

But, trophies matter at the end of the day, and Eriksen felt his time at the club was reaching its rightful conclusion during the 2019/20 campaign. Ever since he departed from the club in January 2020, Tottenham’s midfield has never been able to fill that creative void left in his place, no matter the talented personnel dispatched to try. Harry Kane, despite his best efforts, was not an attacking midfielder, and could not play two positions at once.

Dele Alli was never the same following the arrival of Jose Mourinho. Giovanni Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele were never deemed up to scratch, with the latter sent on his third consecutive loan this summer, joining Turkish giants Galatasaray until June 2024. Suffice it to say, despite the best efforts of Daniel Levy and the revolving door of managers over the past few years, nothing has stuck for Tottenham, until now.

With the arrival of Ange Postecoglu came a wave of change for Tottenham Hotspur. Out the door went Harry Kane and ugly styles of football, and in came a new culture and identity for fans to latch on to. Maddison is part of that identity.

His maturity and character at 26 years old, even after having just been relegated to Leicester City, Immediately set him apart from his new teammates. Despite being the “new kid on the block”, Maddison’s admiration from his teammates gave Big Ange the evidence he needed to name the four-times-capped Englishman as an alternate captain, a feat quite uncommon for a player just recently signed by a club in transition.

This isn’t to say that Eriksen isn’t a leader in the locker room, as the attacking midfielder serves as the captain of the Danish National Team alongside Simon Kjær. But at Spurs, especially during his later seasons, Eriksen was not the man in the changing room inspiring his teammates at halftime. That was never his m.o.

There lies the difference between James Maddison and Christian Eriksen, and why Maddison is on a trajectory to surpass the Dane in terms of legacy. The Englishman can excel and reach the heights of Eriksen on the pitch, that much is certain, it’s his presence in the changing room and at the club in general that sets him apart.

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Maddison is the embodiment of the culture change at Tottenham Hotspur. He is the spark that has lit a new fire of passion within this fan base. He possesses the ability to bring the best out of his teammates and the fans in attendance. His presence transcends the game, and if maintained, he will go down as one of the most influential players in Tottenham Hotspur’s history.