Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Riyad Mahrez Debacle Showing the Ugly Side of Professional Football Yet Again

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The beautiful game is not a game anymore.

It’s long stopped being our favourite pastime and turned itself into a business – and a very lucrative one as well.

The figures are becoming mind-boggling and the very fact that Premier League clubs spent 77% more on new signings this January compared to last year’s winter market shows the uptrend in expenditure that continues to grow year in and year out.

Premier League clubs spent £419.5 million – compared to £236.7 million in 2017 – with Manchester City’s £57 million move for Aymeric Laporte accounting for a good part of the entire amount. The Citizens have moved on to strengthen their squad despite the heavy-spending summer and Pep Guardiola even wanted to boost his attacking options even further by launching a late attack on Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

The Algeria international was identified as the ideal replacement for injured Leroy Sane but Manchester City failed in attempt to land him due to a reported £80 price-tag determined by his club Leicester City.

Was Mahrez Greedy or Just Hungry for Success?

In the end, the Citizens missed out on the opportunity to sign the Foxes playmaker who was left disappointed and frustrated to be denied the chance to seal a ‘dream move’ to Manchester City.

Mahrez was clearly determined to join Guardiola’s title-elect side and is now hell-bent on getting back to his employers whose stubbornness – or determination if you like to call it that way – is the main reason why Mahrez is still a Leicester City player – if we can call him that as well.

Bitterly upset not to have made the move to Etihad, the 26-year-old seems to be boycotting his club. Mahrez was nowhere to be seen for three straight days after failing to report on consecutive training sessions. Having missed Leicester training both on Monday and Thursday, Mahrez is set to be issued a £200,000 fine. It is currently unknown when the winger will report for duty next and is highly unlikely to be included in Leicester City’s match against Swansea City this weekend.

Leicester are given 14/19 betting odds to beat the emerging Carlos Carvalhal’s side at the King Power Stadium.

The situation between Riyad Mahrez and Leicester City is not as straightforward as one might think. Laying down simple facts would see us all point our finger towards Mahrez, wouldn’t it?

The 26-year-winger is under contract with Foxes until 2020, he is paid handsomely to do his job and perform at the highest level for the club which made him the household name he is today. Mahrez comes off as greedy, unappreciative and disrespectful but all of these negative attributes could very well be accredited to his club as well.

Leicester City demanded a filthy amount of money for their playmaker and were never really going to let him leave, knowing that City would never accept to pay close to £80 million for Mahrez. The Algeria international has long outgrown his current side and should not be blamed for wanting a new challenge.

After all, his refusal to show up in training could be interpreted as a response to a broken promise made on the back of a historic Premier League title-winning campaign in 2015/16. Having successfully rebuffed approaches for Riyad Mahrez that summer, Leicester City made a promise to Mahrez, vowing to let him leave at the end of the 2016/17 season.

With transfer not happening, Mahrez had a right to be mad at his club

Mahrez should not be blamed for wanting a bigger challenge and a chance to test his skills on a higher scale but Leicester do have a point in refusing to sell their key striker at what would have been the most inopportune time, as they would not have enough time on their hands to find a proper replacement.

In the end, this whole thing, as much as it resembles the Carlos Tevez drama back in 2012 where he went on a five-month boycott, is once again showing the ugly side of the professional football and the strength of power and negative influence money can have on people. Starting off with City and their rude offer and onwards to Mahrez and Leicester themselves.

Both club and the player should adopt a more professional approach towards finding the solution and realise they both hold equal blame in this situation.


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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