Leicester City beat Watford 2-0 yesterday to put themselves seventh in the Premier League table and a certain Riyad Mahrez scored a magnificent second goal to add another £5 million to his ever-increasing price tag. He is a player that is allegedly under the watchful eye of several big European sides and it is understood that at one time or another, Chelsea have been interested in acquiring the Algerian winger.
Mahrez was, of course, a huge figure in the Foxes side which extraordinary won the Premier League title and it is very surprising that the highest bid for him was just £32 million, from Italian giants AS Roma at the end of the 2017 summer transfer window. As expected, that offer was laughed off by Craig Shakespeare, who was the Leicester manager at the time. Claude Puel took over the job in October and has got the best out of the 26-year-old wideman, resulting in the former Southampton boss slapping a £100 million asking price on his star man.
However, if a bid of over £50 million is sent to the King Power Stadium, there is no guarantee that Mahrez’s head won’t be turned, especially if he feels pressure to move before the end of the window, which is just ten days away. Chelsea are a side who can certainly afford that, considering they are supposedly looking at the availability of Ashley Barnes from Burnley. It has long been reported that Mahrez fancies a move to one of Europe’s superpowers, and with Leicester an outside 80/1 to make the top four according to Williamhill, his time at the King Power Stadium could soon be coming to an end.
Proven Premier League players are like gold dust in the current state of the transfer world and with Virgil van Dijk making the switch from Southampton to Liverpool for a staggering £75 million a few weeks ago, surely Mahrez is worth as much as that, if not even more. When he’s on song, the French-born star is unplayable and would justify his position in any Champions League outfit but when he’s off-colour, Championship teams wouldn’t be falling over themselves for his signature.
Chelsea’s squad isn’t short on quality attacking players, in particular on the wings. Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro and newly signed Ross Barkley are all masters of the trade in attacking midfield but with the current form of Hazard and Willian in particular, there would be little room for some of the world’s best in the side. However, Pedro isn’t performing how many would have expected and this may lead to a vacancy on one of the wings at Stamford Bridge.
Riyad Mahrez would be a very good player to fill that void if it were to open up and he has made it clear on numerous occasions in the past that he would be open to a move to a so-called ‘bigger club’. Chelsea would undoubtedly be classed as a bigger club than Leicester and the salary they would offer would justify this.
Mahrez has scored eight goals and registered eight assists so far this season in 24 league appearances, with three goals and three assists coming in the last six of those, resembling the form of his fantastic campaign two years ago. These stats would support any approach made by Conte for the services of the Algerian but his lack of work-rate doesn’t suit the Italian’s desired style.
Mahrez has a tendency to ‘sulk’ when things aren’t necessarily going his way but when things are going his way, the only thing to do is to sit back and enjoy the wizardry as he glides across the pitch. Chelsea wouldn’t go far wrong to approach the Premier League champion.