Leicester City Football Club’s journey to their historic Premier League victory in 2016 is incomplete without casting the Algerian Riyad Mahrez’s picture. Having been bought for a huge bargain, he was instrumental in any way one can imagine in helping Leicester City clinch one of the most coveted prizes in the world of football.
Fast-forward to 2018. Riyad Mahrez finds himself in an unhappy situation. Angry, deflated, depressed. All amounting to him not turning up for training sessions. In fact, with the impeccable and superb football he played in their winning season that earned him a place on the Ballon d’Or shortlist, Mahrez finds himself likely becoming the club’s legend-turned-villain.
Deep down, Mahrez feels he has done everything he could for the club. He feels he has worked very hard for them, and that he has been a loyal servant. Hence, the time to move is now ripe. The predicament for him is that Leicester City will not budge. For four successive transfer windows, Riyad Mahrez has been denied the opportunity to leave the club and seek “greener pastures”. It is this transfer window which has inflicted the heaviest devastating effect to his whole psyche as a player.
Manchester City put up a decent bid for one of Africa’s brightest football stars pegged at around £60 million. Well, it was one of those last moves as the transfer window was fast coming to closing, but the impact it had on Mahrez when Leicester turned down the offer has been in negative epic proportions. Leicester said that Mahrez is worth £95 million and Manchester City simply walked away. It was yet another blocked move for the Algerian.
Riyad Mahrez is a key player for Leicester City. Ever since he came to the club, he has been getting more impressive. Leicester have done a great deal in investing in the player. He is no longer the Mahrez of Le Havre prior to being signed for £400 000 in January 2014. He was not even a prime target for Leicester then, only being “one of those attacking options”. His dribbles, his clear-cut chances that he creates for his teammates have made him a darling. Only that the “darling” status is now under threat.
In the summer of 2016, Mahrez put down pen to paper and signed a new four year contract. The contract did not include a clause to release him, which he now feels entitled to. Therefore Leicester City are under no obligation to sell their player, the contract runs until 2020. Maybe in the windows to come, Europe’s biggest clubs will queue up for the star and pay the £95 million. Undoubtedly, Mahrez is the playmaker at Leicester and they seek to cash in big on him.
Leicester’s coach Claude Puel admitted that Mahrez was badly affected by the blocked move but hoped that he would soon “return with a smile” and re-integrate in the team. The question on whether he has been unfairly treated by Leicester will remain a superficial approach to this whole saga.