Tottenham have a new Paul Gascoigne in James Maddison after Fulham win

Nine games, seven wins, two draws. Tottenham are absolutely flying. Only one Premier League team have scored more than their 20 goals (Aston Villa, 23) and only one have conceded less than their eight (Manchester City, seven). A huge contributor to Spurs’ electric start has been James Maddison.

A contender for signing of the summer, the £40million Maddison is becoming a Paul Gascoigne-like figure for Ange Postecoglou’s side. A huge personality on and off the pitch and one who can help decide matches – his finish against Fulham on Monday night was his eighth direct goal contribution in nine league matches (three goals, five assists).

The England playmaker has himself previously admitted Gazza – Spurs’ former No 8 – is an inspiration of his. He admitted in September: “Before you become a professional, you’re a fan and I loved players who had personality, players who had a bit of cheekiness about them, more than your bog-standard.

“Gazza was a perfect example. I remember a clip where the cameras are going along during the national anthem and it gets to him and he sticks his tongue out and starts messing around with the camera and going all bog-eyed. I just love that.”

Maddison added: “I like the theatre element of almost being the villain. That’s how I enjoyed watching it and that’s how I enjoy playing it. But it’s not a conscious thing to try and be the showman. That’s just how I am.”

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The appreciation is reciprocated. “He wants to be on the ball, he is creative, he takes people on,” Gascoigne said of ‘Madders’ in August 2019, tipping the then-Leicester playmaker as the man to take up the creative role for England that used to be his.

Maddison finally got his move to a ‘big six’ club this summer and he has relished the challenge of lifting his level, as the stats show. His performances and goal contributions have helped Spurs take 23 points from an available 27 and they sit top of the table. Not since the double-winning 1960-61 season have the north Londoners had a better haul after nine games.

Maddison’s extraordinary form is nothing new, either. Since his Premier League debut in August 2018, he has recorded 83 goal involvements (46 goals, 37 assists). Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne is the only midfielder with more in that time (101).

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Is a title challenge beyond Spurs? At this point – not at all. Maddison and Son Heung-min have developed a deadly connection and Spurs only play once a week thanks to not being in European competition. With injury luck and perhaps a signing or two in January, Postecoglou’s attack-minded team can stay the distance.

Their ‘new Gascoigne’ in the smiling Maddison will be absolutely pivotal no matter where they end up this season. Gazza won the FA Cup with Tottenham in 1991 – and how Spurs’ new No 10 would love to inspire them to long-awaited silverware this year. On the evidence so far, he – and the club’s supporters – can dare to dream.

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