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Algerian international Riyad Mahrez made headlines earlier this week when he announced in a statement that he wants to leave Leicester City in the summer.
Mahrez who was the cornerstone of the success that the Foxes achieved in the 2015/16 season, wasn’t able to reach similar heights this time around with him struggling for long parts of the season. However, the reigning PFA Player of the Year award sees his future somewhere else than the King Power Stadium. In a statement he releases, Mahrez said quoted by The Guardian.
“Out of the huge admiration and respect I hold for Leicester City I wanted to be totally honest and transparent with them and have therefore informed the club I feel now is the time for me to move on.
“I had a good discussion with the chairman last summer and we agreed at that time I would stay for another year in order to help the club as best as I could following the transition of winning the title and in the Champions League.
“However, I am fiercely ambitious and feel now is the time to move on to a new experience. I’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with the chairman and everyone at the club, and I hope I have been able to repay the faith shown to me by my performances and commitment on the pitch during my time here.”
The Foxes were unable to recapture the form that led them to the EPL title back in the 2015/16 season and looked set for the relegation scramble until a late recovery enabled them to finish 11th in the table.
His failure to get back to that kind of form that made him a star in the successful season was a major reason for the Foxes’ failings this time. Mahrez looked a pale shadow of his former self this last season and was a total coax.
While the likes of Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante played vital roles in the Foxes surprise title run a year ago, no player was as influential and important as Mahrez. It was his dazzling skills on the ball and his ability to pen up defences that was important for their historic run.
The 26-year-old finished the 2015/16 season with an amazing 17 goals and registering 11 assists – contributing to 41% of Leicester’s league goals that season. In the process, he created 2.0 key chances and completed 3.9 take-ons per ninety minutes, and deservedly went on to win the PFA Player of the Year award.
The productivity backed up with solid end product perked the interest of several bigwigs like Arsenal, Barcelona etc., but Leicester City managed to convince him to stay for another season in the hopes of making similar steps in the club’s maiden Champions League season. However, from being the talk of the town after his brilliant season, Mahrez had a subdued season this time around.
This season Mahrez just managed 6 goals this season in the league – 11 lesser than last time and just registering 3 assists – 8 fewer from the title-winning campaign. Moreover, Mahrez just created 1.4 key chances this time around while completing 2.2 dribbles per ninety minutes – a significant decrease for a plyer who relies on his performance.
The £100,000-a-week work rate and defensive output was also a great showcase of his performance two years ago. He was making 1.6 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per 90 minutes in the 2015/16 season, but those numbers significantly went down to 1 tackle and 0.8 interceptions per ninety minutes.
All this just goes on to indicate a lack of motivation from the player’s part, probably because he had his eyes set on a big move in the summer, which didn’t materialize. And to provide further evidence, one doesn’t have to look farther than his numbers in the Champions League this season for the Foxes. He managed 4 goals and 2 assists in the European competition from just 9 games. His take-on per ninety minutes parameter also goes up to 2.9 and chances created also rises to 1.6. His tackles also bump up to 1.4 per ninety.
It just goes on to show that he did not turn in bad player overnight, but the Algerian lacked the necessary motivation and drive to perform for Leicester City in the Premier League. However, when he was on the continental stages, Mahrez performance improved, probably due to the added stimulation of showing he can cut on the biggest of the platforms in order to get the big clubs interested.
Judging by the numbers, it is clear that Mahrez has let down the club and the fans and they will be better off getting rid of a player who has shown a lack of motive and drive after one successful season.