Any regular listeners to the Football Faithful Podcast will be well aware that I am a massive fan of Leicester City’s Algerian attacker Riyad Mahrez.
The classy 25-year-old has proven time and time again that he is one of the Premier League most potent attackers, and the sight of him breaking left-back’s ankles, as the kids would say, is truly a joy to watch at times.
Mahrez was of course one of the main stars of The Foxes unlikely title triump a couple of seasons ago, and after struggling a bit last season he has shown he is back to his best by putting in several match winning displays recently.
With the Algeria international at an age that most consider to be a footballers prime and also eligible for the Champions League, I find it surprising that most of the teams that make up the current top six are not banging down the King Power door trying to secure his services.
In fact, his total of 7 goals and 7 assists in the Premier League this season is bettered only by Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling for players that are not out-and-out strikers.
With this in mind I’ve decided to give a quick run down on how Mahrez would or wouldn’t in some cases fit into the starting XI of the different members of the top-six, if any of them do see sense and sign him up this month.
Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford have all played in the Algerian’s favored right-midfield role for United this season with varying degrees of success. In all honesty none of these players have truly made the position their own and Mahrez would be a significant upgrade in terms of attacking threat.
The 2015/2016 POTY has also shown he can impact games from a more central role behind the striker since Claude Puel took over the reigns at The King Power, so he could also play in the number 10 role depending on how United decide to set up.
Mahrez would of course, more than likely have to improve his defensive work-rate to keep Jose Mourinho happy, but all in all he could provide the creative spark the Old Trafford side have struggled with this season.
Mahrez definitely has all the technical attributes Pep Guardiola likes his players to possess, although dislodging any of City’s current midfield may prove difficult.
Raheem Sterling has been in superb form this season so Mahrez would more than likely be nothing more than a back up to the England international if he moved to the Etihad, although the thought of Pep maybe converting him into a deep lying playmaker, as he has done with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva is certainly intriguing.
Arsene Wenger’s side could do a January signing more than most in order to give their players and fans a lift after what has been a disappointing season so far that sees them in 6th place five points away from their spiritual home of fourth.
With Arsenal playing a 3-5-2 he would probably fit in best as a number 10, as it would be hard to imagine him playing as a wing-back.
When Ozil and Sanchez leave the Gunners this summer or even in January, Arsene Wenger will need to replace them with quality and preferably with Premier League experience. Mahrez would fit into the North London sides style of football perfectly.
Our resident Football Faithful Podcast Spurs fan Karl has been crying out for his club to snap up the Algerian international for some time now.
Mauricio Pochetinno’s side do tend to struggle against teams that defend deep at times and could do with some extra pace and trickery in wide areas.
Mahrez has proven time and again over the last couple of seasons that he can be the difference maker in tight games and would slot nicely into a right-midfield role at Wembley/White Hart Lane.
Pedro and Willian are both quality players and are capable of match winning moments of brilliance, but neither has been able to perform at a high level consistently this season.
It has been well publicized that Antonio Conte would like to strengthen his squad in this transfer window and Mahrez has enough quality to improve the Stamford Bridge sides attacking options.
Antonio Conte move from last seasons 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 with Eden Hazard playing behind Alvaro Morata does make it a little difficult to see where exactly Mahrez would fit in at Chelsea, but if the Italian did switch back to last seasons formation with two wide forwards playing up top beside Morata, he would easily fit in on the right with his total of 7 goals and 7 assists this season more than Willian and Pedro combined.
Reports in France earlier this week suggested that Liverpool were about to make a bid for the Foxes star, although the Anfield club were quick to dismiss these reports.
Mo Salah has been a revelation since signing for Jurgen Klopp’s side, scoring 17 goals in just 19 Premier League appearances so Mahrez would have little chance of taking his place on the right of Liverpool’s attack.
With Philippe Couthinho now in Barcelona, Liverpool have plenty of money to spend, although it is difficult to see where exactly he would fit into The Reds team.
Even after the talented Brazilian’s departure it will more than likely be Adam Lallana who takes the deep lying playmaking duties over at Anfield, and it’s hard to see Mahrez being more than a squad player if he did move to Liverpool.