Riyad Mahrez has stunned Leicester by asking that he be allowed to leave the club this summer and I’m stunned that they’re stunned.
Hands up who didn’t see this coming? Anyone?
Throughout last summer when everyone was discussing the future of Leicester’s title winning players and N’Golo Kante moved to Chelsea and Arsenal were looking at Jamie Vardy and Mahrez, there were rumours and reports that Mahrez agreed to stay at Leicester one more season. Reading the statement Mahrez has put out confirms this, it says;
I had a good discussion with the chairman last summer and we agreed at that time I would stay for another year to help the club as best I could following the transition of winning the title and in the Champions League.
So why are they shocked that he is asking to leave this summer? They’ve had a year’s notice about his intent.
Or is it more to do with how things have gone this season?
For a large part of the season Leicester were dreadful, the players – Mahrez included – did not perform which led to the club sacking their title winning manager, Claudio Ranieri, allegedly because of player unhappiness.
Mahrez in his statement also talks about how he is “fiercely ambitious” and feels “now is the time for me to move on”. Yes that point when Leicester no longer have Champions League or even Europa League football. What a shocker.
Having won the PFA Player of the Year award and title with Leicester he clearly thinks he should be playing at a higher level, at a club where they can offer him such things.
Having said that, Mahrez and the team as a whole haven’t performed over the entire season, and when that promise was made, it was made on the assumption that he and the team would give everything this season, not just in the Champions League but the Premier League as well.
I still think the hierarchy at Leicester have been naive though, they may think it is a bit cheeky for Mahrez to still ask, but shocked? Really?
The good news from Leicester’s perspective is that they are in a relatively strong position, Mahrez still has three years left on his current contract and there is no release clause in it, so they can hold out for what they feel is an acceptable fee. The difficulty however is that the player has let his desire to leave be known and after his form this season his value might have dipped somewhat.
I don’t get how any of this could come as a surprise to Leicester (if it even has). The big question now becomes where does he go? How much do Leicester want for him? And will they let him go?