Mata, RLC, Zinchenko: The men to replace Riyad Mahrez at Leicester City

Manchester City have officially announced the signing of long term target, Riyad Mahrez, from Leicester City.

Mahrez’s move, thought to have cost his new club £60 million, brings to an end a long running saga surrounding this potential switch. Now, Leicester City must set about replacing the most talented man ever to represent their club. 

For all of Vardy’s goals, Kante’s defensive industry, and Wes Morgan’s leadership, Riyad Mahrez was the sprinkling of pure genius that inspired Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League title triumph of 2015/16.

Even with the full £60 million fee at his disposal, Claude Puel will almost certainly be unable to replace all of Mahrez’s influence and quality with a single incoming player. 

Adjusting to life after Mahrez will require more than one new face to come in to fill the Algerian’s void.

Oleksandr Zinchenko

Zinchenko has already been rumoured to be exiting the Etihad this summer, and Mahrez’s arrival could finally force him out.

The 21-year-old is a versatile player, able to occupy a central berth or operate anywhere on the left flank. Wherever he plays, Zinchenko brings forward drive, will run at defenders, and is capable of finding a killer pass in the final third. 

Transfermarkt value him at £6.3 million, so he is well within Leicester’s financial reach. The Foxes could get this truncated kind of swap deal done this summer.

Juan Mata

One of the biggest losers in the Mahrez sale is Jamie Vardy, who has lost the creator of so many of his goalscoring opportunities. Well, Leicester could sell one playmaker to Manchester City this summer, and buy another from Manchester United.

The 30-year-old Spaniard is valued at £27 million by Transfermarkt, but he is entering the final year of his contract at Old Trafford, so Mourinho may look to cash in this summer. At Leicester, Mata would still be able to serve plenty up on a plate for the England striker.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Loftus-Cheek may be available on another loan deal from Chelsea this season, but if Leicester would prefer to pursue a permanent deal then Transfermarkt value the English powerhouse at £13.5 million.

The England international can greatly contribute to attacking play, is a spectacular passer of the ball, adds an extra layer of defensive awareness to his team and brings true physicality to the centre of the park. 

Between Zinchenko, Mata, and Loftus-Cheek, Leicester City could recoup all the skills, trickery, creativity, technical ability, positional versatility and experience of Riyad Mahrez. If these players’ Transfermarkt valuations are anything to go by, all three could also be signed for less combined than the £60 million they received for Mahrez too. 

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