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30th Jan 2018

Here’s why Riyad Mahrez probably won’t join Manchester City

He has been linked with a deadline day move

Robert Redmond

Riyad Mahrez has been linked with a deadline day move to Manchester City.

According to reports, City want to sign the Leicester City forward after losing Leroy Sane to injury, and to aid their challenge to win four trophies this season. The Telegraph claim that City have yet to make an official offer offer for Mahrez, but they value him at around £60m.

However, the report claims that Leicester value him closer to £90m and they aren’t prepared to lose him during the current window.

Leicester’s owners are said to have raised Mahrez’s valuation after witnessing Philippe Coutinho leave Liverpool for Barcelona for £142m, and Liverpool’s £75m transfer for Virgil van Dijk from Southampton. And they probably have a point. Mahrez has been in excellent form this season, scoring eight goals and registering seven assists. The Algerian forward is arguably the best player outside of the top six, and was named PFA Player of the Year for his performances when Leicester won the league in 2016. He scored 17 goals and had 11 assists that season. Yet, the 26-year-old has never come close to leaving Leicester and joining a team which regularly competes in the Champions League.

Mahrez could certainly prove a very valuable player for any team in the top six, but it doesn’t look like this deal is going to happen. If City backed away from the deal for Alexis Sanchez, they’re unlikely to fork out so much money for Mahrez. It could also be too late in the window to complete the transfer, and Leicester would have no time to find a replacement.

It is peculiar that Mahrez is still playing for Leicester despite his fantastic form in recent seasons. That’s not intended to be disrespectful to Leicester, but Mahrez’s talent means he probably should be playing for a side in the Champions League. Andy Carroll almost joined Chelsea this month, yet no club has been prepared to sign Mahrez so far. Football journalist Daniel Storey could have the answer why, and it comes down to Mahrez’s agent.

“Players who don’t have these famous agents are kind of missing out,” Storey said on The Totally Football Show this week.

“Mahrez’s agent is an Algerian guy, who only has two other player listed on his books. One is a League 2 player (French second division), and another is a player in the Algerian leagues. And then he has Riyad Mahrez, who is this potentially 50 or 60 million pound footballer. Mahrez’s move has never come, Arsenal have been linked, Liverpool have been linked, I think Roma were linked strongly, but it’s never come and I wonder if that’s partly because his agent doesn’t know the right people to get a deal done. If Mahrez’s agent was Mino Raiola would he still be at Leicester City now? I don’t think so.”

“I think part of that might be that he (Mahrez’s agent) sees this as his big pay-day, and wants to get the deal done on his own,” Tom Markham said, arguing that Mahrez’s representative Kamel Bengougam, may not be prepared to use an intermediary agent in any transfer for his client. It’s also possible that Mahrez’s agent doesn’t have the contacts to make a potential transfer happen, and that if the player had a more powerful agent he may already be at a club competing in the Champions League.

On Tuesday evening, Sky reported that Mahrez has handed in a transfer request. However, if he had a more powerful agent, it could be argued that he wouldn’t have had to resort to such a measure, and he’d already be playing for a Champions League team. Leicester are unlikely to sell him this late into the window, but the situation could change over the next 24 hours.