Leicester have had a good campaign thus far and they currently sit in 8th position in the Premier league. The early form of Riyad Mahrez was terrific as he was putting his summer transfer request behind him and focusing on helping the team by giving his very best performances. Since he grabbed 8 goals and 8 assists in the league up until January, when Man City came calling for his signature, it didn’t end well for Mahrez once more…
With Leroy Sane facing a spell on the sideline for several weeks, Man City were ready to pay £60m for a 6-week replacement. Some may describe it as crazy money but the champions-elect were willing to spend on title-winning Mahrez given how well he has played for the Foxes over the past few years.
Mahrez was increasingly frustrated with Leicester, having seen fellow team-mates N’golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater moving on to bigger clubs. Given how the Algerian was the PFA player of the year and scored 17 goals, as well as creating 11 assists in Leicester’s title-winning season, it is understandable as to why the Foxes are so desperate to keep hold of him.
The 26-year-old was playing superbly well for the Foxes, even though it was obvious the Algerian wanted a move away from the King Power Stadium. When the transfer window was officially shut and Mahrez still wasn’t granted his move, he took it upon himself to miss training and Premier League matches as a consequence for not letting him leave.
He conveniently made his return to the Leicester team for their 5-1 loss to Manchester City. Mahrez came on to a positive reaction from both fans, with the Leicester fans clearly realising how big a player he is for them.
But what makes him such a desirable player for Leicester to keep and for Manchester City to gain?
Riyad Mahrez has certainly contributed goals to Leicester. This season already, he has surpassed his goal tally from last season (6) and looks a lot more like the player he was when Leicester won the Premier League. Under Claude Puel, Mahrez plays on the right-hand side, allowing him to dart in onto his stronger left foot and unleash an effort towards goal.
The 26-year-old is capable of scoring all types of goals with this season being the prime example. Whether it’s a tap in from a rebound or taking on a number of players to then putting the ball in the top corner, Riyad Mahrez has proven he can do it all when it comes to finishing.
With eight assists already this campaign in the league, Mahrez isn’t just a selfish winger but instead if his team-mates have a better opportunity to score then Mahrez has the vision to pick out that player. This is an area in his game that he has massively improved this season as last time out, he only managed three in 36 appearances. He has already made 10 big chances for his team-mates and his crossing success ratio is 21% this season, a 5% increase from the last.
Defensive work for the team
Claude Puel has brought a new system into Leicester since taking over from Craig Shakespeare. The minimum demanded from the manager is 100% effort and this includes the wingers getting back to help in defence as well.
The stats prove that Mahrez has already this season made several more interceptions and clearances to help his team break up field. With the pace the Algerian has, he is capable of turning defence into attack very quickly whilst joining in the play himself.
It is predicted that we could see Riyad Mahrez return to the starting line-up tonight for when the Foxes take on Sheffield United in the FA cup 5th round.
Despite the strops and arguments Mahrez has created during his time at Leicester, the home fans still love him and I would expect a good reception for the number 26.
Whether he would score and kiss the badge maybe a bit too far but the fans will hope for the same player they saw for the first half of this season to shine once more until he surely, finally, secures a move away from the King Power in the summer.