Riyad Mahrez made a big money move to Manchester City this summer as several attempts to sign him last season failed. Leicester City held on to their starman and would not let him go despite City’s best efforts. But City’s persistence and the player’s desire to leave finally won the day.
After moving to the Etihad Stadium for £60 million this summer, he became the club's record signing. But many wondered if he was worth the price and if he could replicate the form that saw him play a starring role in Leicester City’s unprecedented title run. The 27-year-old failed to hit the heights that saw him hit the back of the net 17 times and set up another 11 goals in 37 appearances as the Foxes lifted the Premier League title in 2016.
He went on to score just six goals the next season. But his form was rather symptomatic of the whole team performance as they not only failed to defend their league title but also fell out of the top four. It was more like returning back to reality for a club that was more used to fighting relegation battles than challenging for the title.
However, the Algerian international had a better outing last term. A return of 12 goals and 10 assists helped a largely inconsistent Leicester to a ninth-place finish on the league table.
After initial unconvincing performances for the Sky Blues, it appears Mahrez is now justifying his price tag. He scored a brace in the Premier League as City ran riot against Cardiff City with a 5-0 whitewash. That tally was increased on Tuesday as he struck in the 78th minute to give Guardiola’s men a two-goal lead against Oxford United in the Carabao Cup. He put out a fine performance in the game before Phil Foden capped off the night with his first goal for the club.
If the former Leicester man’s form at the King Power Stadium in the 2015/16 and 2017/18 campaigns is anything to go by, there is much more to come from the winger moving forward. City will need him to be at his best in the Champions League as well where the team started poorly losing the first group game 2-1 to French side Lyon last week.
The 2015/16 PFA Player of the Year award winner scored four times and laid on two assists as Leicester made it to the quarter-final of the 2016/17 Champions League. At City, he is surrounded by quality players that can help him raise his game to the next level. It’s only a question of how much he is ready to apply himself. Thankfully, with Guardiola in charge at City, there will be no room for complacency.