James Maddison would be mad to join Manchester United: Neil Humphreys
Leicester's midfield star should remain at a 'bigger' club
Surely, we all want to live in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's world. It sounds like a magical place with unicorns and rainbows and footballers like James Maddison joining Manchester United.
There's something positively endearing about Solskjaer's eternal optimism.
As long as he stays at the fantasy Hotel Old Trafford, United will forever be the biggest club in the world and eternally "interested" in signing Maddison.
The Leicester City star might be flattered, in the way that Harry Styles might be flattered if a boy band at a local community club were "interested" in his services.
According to several titillating reports, United are keen on a potential swop deal - with Maddison heading to Old Trafford and Jesse Lingard heading the other way to Leicester.
Even with the £45 million (S$ 80m) that United are reportedly willing to throw on top, the proposal is a weird joke, with both sets of supporters behaving like woke celebrities squirming in front of Ricky Gervais.
They're not sure whether to laugh or not.
Thankfully, the self-deprecating among the United faithful are one step ahead on social media, renaming their haphazard club "Interested FC".
That's the definitive new moniker for Solskjaer's mob - Interested FC - as that has become their default position in the transfer market.
But a bemused Brendan Rodgers has reiterated, yet again, that his wealthy owners are not asking him to sell anyone, quite the opposite in fact. And why would he?
Leicester are second in the table, 14 points ahead of United. Tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the Foxes host Aston Villa in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final. Defeat Villa and they'll reach their first final since 2000.
After Leicester's previous owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, tragically died, his son Aiyawatt vowed to invest heavily in the club to honour his father's legacy.
While United pulled off a coaching coup in signing the manager that went down with Cardiff City in 2014, Aiyawatt lured Rodgers away from his Treble winners at Celtic.
With little fanfare, Rodgers has established an outstanding squad of remarkable depth, instilling a wonderful work ethic along with a deep commitment to attacking football.
And, right in the middle of Rodgers' quiet revolution, stands Maddison.
Right in the middle of Solskjaer's circus stands, well, no one on a regular basis because Paul Pogba has disappeared with "his people" to have surgery.
AGONY OF CHOICE
The agony of choice must be keeping Maddison awake at night.
Aside from his prodigious talent, the creative midfielder is blessed with a manager determined to build Leicester's line-up around the 23-year-old.
Rodgers lost Jamie Vardy before the West Ham United game, made nine changes and still brought on Maddison to control the win away from home.
At Newcastle United, Maddison put on a masterclass of midfield dominance. Despite Rodgers rotating again, Maddison held the lines throughout.
His movement and passing range make him an easy fit for a manager who loves to tinker. Steven Gerrard recently said that Rodgers was easily the best tactical coach of his career and Maddison is clearly benefiting from Rodgers' tutelege.
Swopping Rodgers for Solskjaer at such a pivotal stage of a blossoming career can only be considered a sideways move, to put it kindly, an uncomfortable reality that United's powerbrokers are refusing to acknowledge.
Like climate-change deniers, they seem convinced that pumping money at a self-evident problem of their own creation will somehow make it go away.
Perhaps it worked for Harry Maguire. But the United centre-back, who has yet to replicate his Leicester form, must be looking at the Foxes' progress with a sense of yearning.
He gained a massive pay rise, but lost career momentum.
Maddison is 14 points ahead of Maguire in the table, with Champions League qualification all but guaranteed. United can't guarantee a decent performance from one week to the next.
And Rodgers arguably needs Maddison more. The player has been involved in 12 goals in 23 matches in all competitions, scoring nine times - the kind of ratio that United's money can't seem to buy.
If anything, the rather delusional nature of United's "interest" in players that are currently beyond their grasp is indicative of an increasingly unhealthy relationship between club and manager.
Like a couple of addicts, they are locked in a weird co-dependency, feeding each other's delusions about their current size and status. If they keep saying how big they are, they'll continue to believe it, even if no one else really does.
Maddison presumably doesn't. The Leicester player's form and long-term potential genuinely deserve a big club and an accomplished manager.
Luckily, he already has both.