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Riyad Mahrez: From Le Havre and Leicester City minnow to Europe’s top midfielder

Riyad Mahrez, Europe's top rated midfielder / Image via football.co.uk

Riyad Mahrez, Europe’s top rated midfielder / Image via football.co.uk

Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez has come a long way in just a couple of years.

The 24-year-old played in the French fourth tier only six years ago, and has went from strength to strength paving his way to the big scene.

Having spent four years in Le Havre, this flamboyant winger was transferred to Leicester City in 2014, and his growth and development corresponded to the expansion of this English club which are enjoying the fantastic run in their return to the Premier League.

Together with the Premier League sensation Jamie Vardy, the Algerian alumni and the England bad boy formed the unlikely partnership which has yielded fascinating results for Leicester City.

The Foxes are currently occupying the third place in the standings, just one point short from the joint leaders Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively, which have collected 26 points so far this term.

Captivating numbers

Mahrez has made 11 Premier League appearances this season and netted seven time, adding five assists in the process.

The numbers put him among the very best that Europe has to offer.

His seven goals make him the joint best goalscoring midfielder in Europe on par with Marco Reus, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yunus Malli, while his five assists put him in the 3rd place in the midfield category behind Mesut Ozil (10) and David Silva (6). Mahrez has added 39 take-ons and this is yet another category in which the Foxes star is leading the pack.

Riyad Mahrez is currently the top rated player in the Premier League, in front of Jamie Vardy and Jack Butland. In terms of European football, Leicester City star sits second, just behind the Brazilian wonder from Barca – Neymar.

Raineri’s merit

The Italian thinker deserves great deal of credit for the transformation of Leicester City, and of Riyad Mahrez. Claudio Ranieri has had huge mental impact on the Algeria player who has praised the boss on numerous occasions.

“He gives us experience, especially when it comes to tactics. The boss helps me get better every day”, Mahrez was quoted.

The new manager has installed great sense of pride and courage into his players who are not afraid to take on anyone in the league. With their preseason hopes of surviving the league being converted into the European expectations, Claudio Ranieri is the man behind all the success.

Foxes manager has given Riyad the freedom in his play, and the Algerian responded with in remarkable fashion and in fantastic team spirit. The focus has been shifted from scoring goals to creating ones and it has worked splendidly for the Foxes so far.

Team player

The pinnacle of Mahrez’s season so far has definitely been the Watford game, when the mental aspect of Algerian’s game was showcased in its full glory.

A foul by Watford’s goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes led to a penalty kick which Mahrez selflessly awarded to his teammate Vardy, aware of the fact that England striker had the chance to move one behind Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in ten straight Premier League games.

Despite being the team’s designated penalty taker, Leicester City winger turned towards his anxious teammate and gave him the ball. A smash in the net and a kiss on the cheek from Vardy were more than enough to appreciate Mahrez’s act of generosity.

European giants knocking at the door

There is no doubt that Foxes will be under immense pressure in January already. With England’s top clubs already expressing interest in Ranieri’s player, the newcomers from the Championship will have to work hard to keep the squad together.

Leicester City fans are relying on the positive atmosphere and distinct team spirit, but Manchester United and Barcelona who are knocking at the door will be hard to push off during winter.

The Old Trafford outfit have reportedly set their sights on both Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, while the Catalans have labeled Mahrez as the ideal addition to their star-studded line-up and are expected to make a move once their transfer suspension is over.

In addition to the two giants, Sevilla and Villarreal are also keen on acquiring his services, but Ranieri is adamant in his claims that star players such as Riyad Mahrez will definitely stay until the end of the season.

Riyad Mahrez is contracted to Leicester City until 2019, but for how long will the Foxes be able to repel the suitors?

Thu 12 Nov, 2015
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