Premier League champions Man City have confirmed the signing of Leicester City attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who becomes the first new arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium since Pep Guardiola’s men lifted the Premier League title in May. Mahrez has signed a five-year contract at the club, reportedly worth around £200k per week. In what may be seen as a somewhat surprising stat, he actually becomes the club’s record signing as well, having been brought in for £60m. What is surprising there is that for a club which possesses the talent such as City does, that seems a relatively modest transfer record these days!
Mahrez arrived in English football back in 2014 when he joined the Foxes from French outfit Le Havre. Leicester scout Steve Walsh had travelled to France to check out Mahrez’s then-team mate Ryan Mendes, but was instead impressed by Mahrez and the deal was soon done. He was part of the Leicester City side who amazed every single person involved with football when they lifted the Premier League title at the end of the 2015-16 season, and now joins the team who achieved that feat themselves this past season. £60m may be a club record but his capture seems like something of a snip considering the transfer fees being bandied around the market in the current climate.
Pep Guardiola has long been an admirer of Mahrez, and almost signed him back in January before pulling out of the deal due to a difference in valuation between the two clubs. This time he has acted swiftly to get his man, and the Man City boss now has the first piece of the jigsaw in place. City will have to spend well if they want to maintain the significant gap they held over Premier League rivals Man Utd, who finished second last term. United will be eager to at least close that gap, but City clearly aren’t mucking about as they look to win back-to-back league titles for the first time in their history.
Mahrez joins a City attacking line-up littered with talent and star power, and questions about how he will fit into that competitive front-line will likely be at the front of many people’s minds ahead of the new Premier League season getting underway next month. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and David Silva won’t be wanting to give up their position to allow Mahrez in, and so competition for a start should be healthy. The quality of their play moving forward has been a key element of City’s game time recently, but Mahrez provides quality in abundance. His arrival would appear to be just the first piece in Pep Guardiola’s jigsaw for the team next season, and is not likely to be the last new face at the club as the summer progresses.
They have their work cut out to make history – but this has been a great start for Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain.
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