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Talent Scout: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)

Article written by: @Selby147

As the ongoing drama continues to unfold in the Leicester City hierarchy over Nigel Pearson’s long term future at the club, behind the turbulence and reports of an unsettled dressing room, Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez really has stood out over the last few months and has been the bright spark that continues to excel for a Leicester City deep in relegation trouble. The attacking playmaker, nicknamed the ‘Algerian Di Maria’ has permanently replaced Anthony Knockaert in the first-team after suggesting Leicester City were simply ‘a springboard for his career’ and has subsequently continue to improve since signing in the January transfer window of 2014.

Mahrez signed from Le Havre, following Knockaert’s footsteps into the Championship from France and immediately settled in Leicester’s promotion push, contributing three goals and four assists in twelve appearances. And undeniably, the Algerian winger’s development since signing has been astronomical, single-handedly ensuring Leicester earn some vital points as they try to avoid the drop back into the Championship. Arguably his most important input coming in the Foxes’ second away victory of the season at the KC Stadium where Mahrez’ strike on thirty-two minutes proved to be the difference against relegation rivals Hull City. The danger-man has also proved to be Leicester’s attacking threat with the 23 year old currently ranked seventh in the league for the most dribbles per game with an impressive average of 2.9 every matchday, ahead of Santi Cazorla, Angel Di Maria and Willian at the current time of writing.

His attributes replicate the modern 21st century winger we’re so used to seeing perform week in week out at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, combining flair and dangerous prowess on the ball to continually make defenders certainly earn their weekly wages. Admittedly however if there has to be a weakness to Riyad Mahrez’s game, it could only really be the signs of inconsistency he has often shown in front of goal, with the attacker attempting forty-seven shots this season and remarkably only hitting the back of the net twice. With the arrival of Andrej Kramaric from HNK Rijeka in January for a club transfer record of £9.7m, the Foxes will be hoping the Croatian forward will hit the ground running and form an immediate partnership with Riyad Mahrez, evident in their most recent Premier League game against Arsenal, to help ensure their Premier League safety.

Over the last few seasons, there have been a number of standout players in the league who have seen their sides fall at the final hurdle in their push for safety and have made the move back into the league the following year. Most recently, Jordan Mutch, who scored seven goals in his full debut season in the Premier League with Cardiff, made the £6M switch to the league’s newcomers QPR after the Welsh side were unable to avoid the drop. If Leicester are unsuccessful to meet their targets of staying up, Riyad Mahrez will most likely be the man, to make the step back up to Premier League, in a league he fully warrants his place in.

Despite spending a month away from Premier League action in Equatorial Guinea for the African Cup of Nations, Riyad Mahrez still finds still leads the way in terms of assists for Leicester City this season. Algeria made it through to the Quarter Finals stage for the first time since 2010 where they come up short finishing fourth, however this year were defeated by Ivory Coast. Mahrez again, impressed in the tournament, netting the opener against Senegal and picking up an assist in their Quarter Final defeat to the hands of the eventual champions Ivory Coast. Such an impressive tournament further adds to the successful past year for the Leicester winger, where he also made his World Cup debut in Brazil and since has forced his way into the national team to become an indispensable member of the side.

The next few months will prove to be a challenge for the Premier League stragglers who find themselves currently rock bottom of the league, five points of safety. As the games continue to come thick and fast, Leicester will inevitably rely on their key players to help climb out of the the relegation zone and with the pressure intensifying game by game, Nigel Pearson will have to look towards the likes of Leonardo Ulloa, Andrej Kramaric and most importantly Riyad Mahrez in the hope of remaining in arguably, the most competitive league in the world.

Article written by: @Selby147

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