Football players in Europe are expected to start returning for pre-season training as the clubs step up preparations for the new season. Some will be granted some more time to enjoy a well-deserved rest as a result of their involvement in the European Championships.
After spending some time to recharge, some players are already planning for success in the new campaign. Riyad Mahrez is keeping his eyes on the ball as he looks forward to achieve more trophy wins with Manchester City.
The winger played a crucial role in the team’s match to another Premier League title last term. He was outstanding as the Blues also reached the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history. But the Algerian is eyeing even more success next season.
Speaking in an interview recently, he revealed the mindset that has been instrumental to the success he has achieved in the last several years.
“It’s like Rafael Nadal,” Mahrez told YouTube channel Oui Hustle in regards to driving himself on. “Once, he’d won 11 times at [home of the French Open] Roland Garros - and he was losing in the final of another tournament [in 2019].
“He said he heard a voice in his head saying “it’s okay Rafa, you’ve already won 11”. But no, he continues, even injured. He pushes and he wins.
“Those are the real champions. When you win, you have to win again or we’ll say we’re over. You have to surpass yourself all the time.”
The 30-year-old has been one of the most successful players in the game for the last few years. He has three Premier League titles and the same number of League Cup trophies to his name. Throw in the FA Cup and captaining his national team to the African Nations Cup title (the equivalent of the European Championships for African countries), and it’s clear he knows a thing or two about winning trophies.
The French-born forward has become a very influential player for Man City and could yet prove vital in the coming season. With a mindset like that and his experience in both club and national team football, he will easily be one of the leaders in the dressing room.
It’s because of players like him that Pep Guardiola was able to pull off a great season last term despite rarely having his strikers fit and available for selection.
Raheem Sterling’s performance at the Euros showed just how valuable the winger can be. Paired with Mahrez on either side of the front line, Gabriel Jesus can be used as the spearhead. The trio will definitely produce results with Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden ready to step in whenever necessary.
Perhaps that is the reason Guardiola is not bothered about signing a new striker. The Catalan boss is happy with his current squad and ready to carry on with the group as it is.
With no offers made by City, Chelsea seem to be in pole position to sign Erling Haaland. There have also been no serious offers made for Harry Kane. There has not been a serious push for even Jack Grealish.
But is this the best for the club?
Recent history has shown that the club fails to defend the league title when top signings are not made to reinforce after a triumphant season. It happened during Roberto Mancini's time and Manuel Pellegrini's. When Guardiola failed to replace Vincent Kompany, City played second fiddle to Liverpool in the 2019/2020 campaign.
The departure of an important player like Sergio Aguero puts the team in a similar situation.
As it was with Kompany’s departure, the team will miss his contributions not only on the pitch, but in the dressing room as well. Bringing in a proven goalscorer and experienced leader like Kane could be what is required to fill the void.
It provides winners everywhere on the pitch that will be on the same wavelength with Mahrez. That is the recipe for a team that continues the winning habit.