Remember the long, drawn out transfer agony of last summer? Which of our stars would leave, which would stay, it seemed to drag on forever. I bring all of this back up to make it seem like good news when I say that, still in May, we can be pretty sure Riyad Mahrez will be leaving Leicester City this summer.
The Algerian joined the club from Le Havre in the French second tier in January 2014 for a bargain price and immediately helped in the push for the Championship title. After then it was nothing but up for the tricky winger, as he developed into a genuine star with the Foxes, culminating in a Premier League player of the season award after Leicester’s unlikeliest of titles.
While the speculation ran on and on throughout the summer, Mahrez himself seemed content to stay on. After a difficult season, and his first taste of Champions League football, that era is now all but over; this afternoon he released a statement to the club, announcing his intention to leave during the upcoming transfer window, despite signing a new four year contract last August.
Out of the huge admiration and respect I hold for Leicester City Football Club I wanted to be totally honest and transparent with them and have therefore informed the club that I feel now is the time for me to move on
Unfortunately, this is the footballing world we live in now. Contracts mean little and once a player has set his mind to leaving, all that remains is to try and get a good price. His decision appears to based around playing in the Champions League again, which would mean a move to a big club and presumably a large fee, but you also have to question which team would want to pay that for him.
After tearing up the league a year ago, his form fell off completely this season and, unlike Jamie Vardy and others, it never seemed to recover after the change in manager. In fact, if you consider his three full years of Premier League football it looks a lot more like one year of unmaintainable dominance between two pretty good seasons, than a drop off in form this year.
6 - Riyad Mahrez scored just six times in the Premier League last season, compared to 17 goals in 2015/16. Dip.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 30, 2017
That’s not to say he’s not a great player. He can be and, with a stronger cast around him and less defensive attention, he may well go on to look just like the magician from last year.
But he doesn’t look capable of being that player for Leicester City right now. Nor does he offer much more than Demarai Gray at the moment. If the move frees up more playing time for an exciting prospect and allows him to further develop his talents, it may be in our best interests for the future. Especially if the money brought in can be well invested in a defence that sorely needs it.
As long as we get a good price.