Leicester’s Algerian international winger Riyad Mahrez has been one of the stars of the Premier League campaign. He is also the favourite to be crowned PFA Player of the Year at odds of 4/9.
Mahrez’s rise this season has been just as incredible as his teams, with the Foxes currently top of the Premier League table and five points clear of second place Tottenham.
Extraordinary campaign for Mahrez
The 25-year-old has scored 16 times and produced 11 assists in the Premier League in an extraordinary campaign. His performances have not gone unnoticed and they have led to speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.
Former-Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez has even stated that Mahrez could be good enough to play for the European champions, which is high praise indeed from such an illustrious football figure.
The praise does not seem to have gone to winger’s head just yet and he keeps producing vital moments for the Foxes. He just gets on with it at Leicester and keeps helping the Foxes to move closer to what will be the most incredible Premier League title triumph.
This season was not the first time the Algerian has impressed in English football. He showed signs of what was yet to come at the end of last season and in his debut campaign in the Championship.
A star in a relatively small team
Leicester have proved all their doubters wrong this season by maintaining their good form and topping the table, but in footballing terms they are a relatively small club, especially when compared to the giants of Barcelona.
Mahrez is the star of the Foxes team alongside England international striker Jamie Vardy. People will argue that midfielder N’Golo Kante has a big influence on the team as well and that he is the most influential player in the team.
However, in a pure attacking sense only teammate Vardy has contributed to more goals and assists in the top-flight this season. It looks unlikely that Vardy is going to be head-hunted by the European champions, but the way his career has developed in the last couple of years nothing can be ruled out at this point in time.
Mahrez seems to be happy at Leicester and will be playing in the Champions League next season with the Foxes. Not many clubs in England can offer their players that next season, but Leicester can. He does not need to move to be playing football on the highest stage European football has to offer.
If Barcelona signed Riyad Mahrez where would the Algerian fit into their team?
This season he has played on the right-wing and as a number ten, two roles which no do not really exist at Barcelona, as the European champions really do play three up front. Some teams say they play three up front, when in reality it’s one up front and two wingers.
The current front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez of Barcelona look unlikely to go anywhere, despite desperate newspaper reports linking Neymar and Messi with big money moves away.
The three South Americans are first choice and are very rarely left out of Luis Enrique’s first eleven, except on the odd occasion when one of the trio is rested ahead of a vital game. Mahrez would then have to play a deeper role in one of the midfield roles behind the threesome.
One position is taken by the defensive midfielder, usually Sergio Busquets. Then he would have to compete with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto and Arda Turan for a place in one of the midfield spots. They are all talented players and will not be easy to shift.
It seems that if an offer from Barcelona comes in for Mahrez, and that’s a big if, then the French-born star would have a big decision to make, guaranteed first team football at Leicester, or a-bit part role at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Mahrez’s form was always going to attract interest from elsewhere. For now though, Mahrez can concentrate on helping Leicester win their first ever English top-flight title, which may just persuade the Algerian to stick around in the Midlands for a bit longer at least.
Will Riyad Mahrez be plying his trade at Leicester next season?