January 28, 2023

‘He has NERVE’: Juanma Lillo, ex-Man City assistant to Pep Guardiola, names ‘bold’ James Maddison as his favorite England player – despite not playing in the World Cup – as he praises his ‘authentic’ style of play

Pep Guardiola’s former assistant – Juanma Lillo – has heaped praise on Leicester’s James Maddison, questioning why he wasn’t playing for England.

Lillo spent two years at Guardiola’s side – after Mikel Arteta left to become Arsenal manager – before becoming the head coach of Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd SC this year.

In a recent interview, Lillo reflected on the emerging talents across Europe and referred to Foxes’ playmaker Maddison as a player he is “crazy” about.

James Maddison is one of the best players in the Premier League this season

James Maddison is one of the best players in the Premier League this season

Man City assistant referee Juanma Lillo praised Maddison in a recent interview

Man City assistant referee Juanma Lillo praised Maddison in a recent interview

“For me, England and Portugal are the two teams with the most elite players in an age group that will give them good opportunities in the future,” Lillo told the Athletic.

“There’s one player I love for England that I haven’t played at all: James Maddison. I love this man, he turns me on. He is an authentic footballer, more of a street product than an academy product.

‘He dares. He’s got guts. A manager can tell him to do A, but if he thinks B is the right option, he will do B.

‘I just love this. Any idea that pops into James Maddison’s head is 100 times better than any idea you come across at a coaching conference.”

The 26-year-old playmaker has been one of the most outstanding players in the Premier League this season with 11 goals in his first 13 appearances.

Maddison has yet to make an appearance for England at the 2022 World Cup

Maddison has yet to make an appearance for England at the 2022 World Cup

The midfielder was in sparkling form for Leicester before the World Cup stop last month

The midfielder was in sparkling form for Leicester before the World Cup stop last month

Recently, Maddison admitted to studying clips of Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes – which may have contributed to his creativity lately.

Although he was part of England’s 26-man squad that flew to Qatar, the Leicester midfielder has yet to make an appearance at the World Cup.

He has been battling a knee problem since he was forced out of Leicester’s last Premier League game before the World Cup break and was unable to train with the squad throughout the group stage.

Despite being available for England’s matches against Wales and Senegal, Southgate chose not to use the midfielder. He hopes to play against France in the quarter-finals.

Maddison was forced off in the first half of Leicester's last game before the World Cup

Maddison was forced off in the first half of Leicester’s last game before the World Cup

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