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The England Playmaker Dilemma: Who is Winning the Battle Ahead of Euro 2021?

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The Mount-Foden-Maddison-Grealish dilemma

England manager Gareth Southgate has a selection dilemma on his hands for this summer’s European Championships, as he has four attacking playmakers in Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Mason Mount to select from, of which all have shown their qualities within the last 18 months.

We take a look at who is winning the battle and who will make it to Euro 2021 with the stats and all the odds.

Phil Foden

Manchester City man Foden has had an impressive campaign for the Citizens so far this season, having scored eight goals, as well as assisting five in 23 appearances across all competitions. The 20-year-old has found himself playing a lot more minutes on a regular basis this campaign, having already played 1512 compared to the 1770 he did over 38 appearances last season.

This is largely down to the departure of City legend David Silva to Real Sociedad last summer, which has essentially seen the Stockport-born midfielder become the heir to the Spaniards’ throne, of which always seemed the point.

Foden has had a mixed international career so far on and off the pitch, as he made his Three Lions debut back in September in England’s 1-0 victory at Iceland, but was sent home along with Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood for disciplinary reason. Since then, he has bounced back well, scoring two and assisting one in the return fixture in November at Wembley, as well as making a substitute appearance in England’s 3-0 home friendly win against Ireland in the same week.

Foden is priced at 1/5 to get into Southgate’s Euro 2021 squad.

Jack Grealish

Aston Villa’s Grealish has been one of the best players in the Premier League both this season and last, having contributed to 14 goals in 36 league games last campaign, which resulted in the Villains staying up in England’s top flight by a single point ahead of Bournemouth, courtesy of a Grealish goal against West Ham United on the last day of the season at the London Stadium which earned his side a vital 1-1 draw.

This season, Villa have improved significantly, which has brought the best out of the 25-year-old, as he has five goals and nine assists in 15 league games, as well as being second on the big chances created charts, having made 12, just two less than City’s superstar Kevin De Bruyne.

Alike Foden, Grealish is versatile and can play on the wings due to the pace and power the Birmingham-born midfielder has. The Villa man played three times in the Nations League for England, impressing when appearing, despite not making a goal contribution, although he made an assist in each of England’s friendly games last year against both Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Southgate seemed to have been reluctant to initially pick the Villa man, but in the last 18 months, the form he has shown in the Premier League has been irresistible which will surely see him selected in England’s Euro 2021 squad.

Grealish has the odds of 1/5 to make it into England’s 23-man squad for the Euros and if creativity is anything to go by, he doesn't just get in the team, but prehaps starts.

James Maddison

Maddison has had another sensational season so far at Leicester City under the management of Brendan Rodgers, with his goal in midweek against Chelsea meaning that he has scored six and assisted four goals in his opening 17 Premier League appearances this campaign.

This is already an improvement on last season where he managed nine goal contributions in 31 league games, having missed the latter stages of the season due to injury. This is promising for England, as the Leicester man has shown a lot of versatility in his time at the King Power Stadium, having played on either wing, as well as in behind the striker, and as an out and out central midfielder, with the latter being an area which England tend to struggle to find the right balance in, often fielding the likes of Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson in which is a very much like for like pairing.

Maddison hasn’t played for England since coming on as a second half substitute in their 7-0 win against Montenegro at Wembley in November 2019, which may come as a surprise to some due to the quality that he has shown for the Foxes since Rodgers arrived at the King Power Stadium.

Maddison has the odds of 2/5 to be selected by Southgate for the Euros, the shortest odds of the everyone in this debate.

Mason Mount

Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount has struggled this season, playing 90% of Frank Lampard’s sides minutes in the Premier League, scoring two goals and assisting four. The Blues have tended to struggle to find the right balance to set up within their midfield, as the London club have suffered their second-worst start under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, with only the 2015/16 season under Jose Mourinho being worse.

Last season Mount’s stats were decent considering it was his first full season in the top flight, managing 14 goal contributions in 37 games, in what was again an inconsistent Chelsea side that finished on 66 points in fourth place, although this was understandable, as the club had a transfer ban upon Lampard’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2019.

Mount is the favourite of the four to be in Southgate’s squad, having featured in every single England squad since making his full Premier League debut for Chelsea against Manchester United in early August 2019. The 22-year-old now has 13 caps for the Three Lions, and has four goal contributions against the likes of Montenegro, Kosovo, Belgium and Iceland.

Mount is priced at 1/8 to be picked by Southgate for Euro 2021.

Who Southgate Should Choose?

In terms of which three should be selected, it is clear to see that Foden, Grealish and Maddison stand out in terms of statistics and overall effect on the pitch, as well as the fact that they all have different qualities. Foden brings that wizard-like nature to the team, where he seems to glide across the pitch and find passes not many can even think of. At the same time, the combination with Raheem Sterling, who will likely start at Euro 2021, could also work in Foden's favour.

Grealish has statistically been the standout of all four, regardless of his team’s form guide, as he arguably kept Aston Villa in the Premier League last season. The Villa man has contributed to 48% of his side’s goals this campaign, which is in stark contrast to Mount’s record which is an 18% goal involvement rate.

Meanwhile, Maddison has offered Leicester more in terms of goal contributions and plays in a five at the back system, of which England are expected to play when they go to Euro 2021. The former Norwich man has also proven that he is a big-game player, having scored goals against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as getting an assist in Leicester’s recent 2-2 draw with Manchester United at the King Power Stadium.

Mount may have been in every England squad since the start of the 2019/20 season, but, having featured in 90% of Chelsea’s minutes played in the league, his form simply hasn’t been good enough to justify his place in the England team. His record in all competitions stands at nine goal contributions in 26 appearances, with a rate of one contribution every 227 minutes, which is questionable when playing for a team that should be fighting for major honours.