Riyad Mahrez has announced that he would be leaving Leicester City. As with many other Leicester fans, I am disappointed but not particularly surprised. He was outstanding in the 2015-16 season and without any doubt is the most talented player I have ever seen in my 20 years of supporting the club.
However, this season he looked as if he felt his race with Leicester was run and that he needed to take a step forward to win more trophies and become a Champions League regular. He was not the player of last season but still showed flashes of brilliance particularly in the Champions League where he scored four goals and provided two assists.
His four goals in the Group Stages saw him included as part of the Fantasy Champions League team of the Group Stages. So while it was not his best season domestically, he has shown that he can take the step up to the next level.
The question then becomes, where will he go next and potentially how much for? It seems that there will be suitors both domestically and abroad and the three most mentioned options recently have been Arsenal, Monaco and Chelsea. But how would Mahrez fit in at these clubs and would they be willing to pay big money for the Algerian winger?
Arsenal seems like the most likely destination. A number of papers have linked him to the North London club today with ESPN, Goal.com and The Evening Standard all suggesting that Wenger might revive the interest he had last summer in Mahrez.
With rumours swirling that Alexis Sanchez is adamant that he will be leaving this summer, it would make sense for Wenger to look for an attacking wide player to try and fill the gap that Sanchez would leave if he was to depart.
The Algerian would not be a like for like replacement; he doesn’t quite have the same tenacious will as Sanchez but, like the Chilean, is very skilful, quick and has an excellent football brain. ESPN suggests that Leicester value Mahrez at £40 million and Arsenal would expect to get a fair bit more than that for Sanchez so they could certainly afford him.
Monaco are another mooted destination for Mahrez, and as with him being a possible Sanchez replacement, many feel that the French champions might see Mahrez as a replacement for Bernardo Silva who has just left the principality for Manchester City. Both ESPN and Sports.fr have suggested that if the financial aspects of the deal could be ironed out, then Monaco would love to have Mahrez.
Again, similarly to Sanchez, Mahrez would not be a like for like replacement for Silva with Silva preferring to push in as an inside forward while Mahrez is more of a traditional winger. However, both players are small, skilful and exceptional dribblers. The price tag might leave the Monegasque’s reeling but if a deal can be struck he’d be a great fit for Monaco.
Mahrez has not been linked so strongly with Chelsea, but there have been some suggestions that Conte might look to add to his squad with Mahrez. The rumours were encouraged by Mahrez himself according to Metro, and a move to the Champions would give him another shot at the Champions League.
While Conte already has Hazard and Pedro, he has never seemed that confident in Willian and Mahrez would undoubtedly add something to that squad. Chelsea could also comfortably afford to bring Mahrez in, and if they did, he would definitely improve them.