Top of the league. Fighting on all four fronts – everything seemed set at Manchester City. They refused to pay the money Alexis Sanchez was after and looked content with their squad following the much-anticipated signing of Aymeric Laporte.
However, late last night, reports broke that City had made not one, not two, but three bids for Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez – all of which were rejected.
In the past 18 months Mahrez’s dream to play for the Premier League’s elite looked to be over, with bids only coming in from Roma last summer but Manchester City seem very keen on the Algerian!
The Foxes have said they’d only sell Mahrez if an incredible offer is made, as their match-winner signed a lucrative £100,00-a-week, four-year contract, 18 months ago. But if anyone can afford him, City can.
So, if he completes the move, what would Mahrez bring to Man City, and how on earth would he fit in?
Following *that* Joe Bennett tackle, Leroy Sane has been ruled out until mid-March and will miss both of City’s Champions League last-16 legs against FC Basel alongside the Carabao Cup final against Arsenal. Mahrez would be a good short-term replacement for the German – but as we all know… When you’re paying more than £55m for a player, it isn’t just for a quick fix….
The Citizens are fighting on all four fronts and so squad depth is key for the remainder of the season. They’ve proven they have the ability to field two world-class XIs. Mahrez’s preferred position is out on the right, cutting in on to his left foot.
At the moment, City’s widemen interchange on a regular basis. Sterling, De Bruyne and B.Silva play with freedom encouraged by Pep Guardiola. But with Jesus and Sane both out of action, the signing of Mahrez could be a wise one.
The Algerian both scores goals and creates them. City’s free-flowing approach to the way they attack teams will suit him down to the ground. Pep’s side has an abundance of power and pace, but more importantly, they’re ruthless in the final third.
“This move is a statement of intent that City are targeting all four trophies this season.”
- Martin Keown
Goals and Assists
15/16: 19 Goals / 11 Assists in 43 Apps
16/17: 12 Goals in 51 Apps
17/18: 9 Goals and 7 Assists in 29 Apps
Mahrez tore teams apart during Leicester’s title winning season – his link-up play with Jamie Vardy saw the two form a devastating partnership where the pair contributed to 59 Premier League goals. The freedom he was given by the fact that Kante and Drinkwater sat allowed Mahrez to express himself.
Things won’t be too different under Pep, where City have averaged 65% of the possession in all competitions so far this season… Why not Alexis Sanchez, we hear you ask? Wages and age. Sanchez’s move to United will be the final big move of his career, going on 30 this year. Mahrez on the other hand, is just 26, with his best years arguably ahead.
Sanchez is on £505,000-a-week at United, and City are expected to offer Mahrez £150,000-a-week – a considerable difference which will allow the Citizens to keep their strict wage structure in place.
Leicester Assistant Manager, Michael Appleton, said “If you look at the type of money Philippe Coutinho and Virgil van Dijk have gone for, then he would have to be in and around those figures. He does things in training that I’m convinced only the top, top players can do.”
Mahrez’s Premier League contribution since October (8 Goals 5 Assists), is better than any CIty player’s in that period. Mahrez’s creativity, pace and eye for goal will be a hit at the Etihad, should he complete a move.
A Slight-Lacking Work Rate
Pep demands a ferocious work-rate from his players and it’s fair to say the Algerian international’s tackles, interceptions and ball recovery stats have yoyo’d over the past 3 seasons.
Michael Appleton said, “Could he play at one of the top six? I think he could but I think he would have to adapt his style slightly. There would be more of a demand on him without the ball.”
So an increased work-rate would be required if he is to flourish for the Sky Blues. However, there’s no doubting his attacking ability. He’s a flair player that would add something City haven’t already got in their squad.
Riyad Mahrez has had plenty of plaudits of the last few years but he’s also had his critics. So long as he can adapt his playing style to fit the Man City mechanic, he should be a solid investment for the Citizens.