In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that had many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
6 February 2016 was a day that Manchester City supporters knew they were watching genuine Premier League title contenders at the Etihad Stadium…except it was the visiting team who were taking the plaudits.
Leicester went home with a comprehensive 3-1 victory in which Riyad Mahrez excelled, scoring one goal and setting up another on a momentous day during the Foxes’ ultimately successful pursuit of the title.
Nearly two years later, the Algerian winger looked set to be going back to the Etihad to finalise a move to Manchester, only for the Cityzens to dramatically back out of a deal that would have cost them £59m, a figure to which they wouldn’t commit to paying (as per BBC).
If Mahrez was afraid that his chance of a move to Pep Guardiola’s side had passed, however, he need not have worried. Six months later, Manchester City confirmed his signing in a then-club record £60m deal, with the Algerian instantly stating his desire to win the Champions League, having already lifted the Premier League trophy with Leicester.
He would take time to settle at the Etihad, though, as he later admitted in an interview with The Mirror that at first he struggled with Guardiola’s demands, saying: “His concern was about my work-rate first, because at Leicester it was more of a team rate where we were trying to counter.”
Mahrez’s first season at Manchester City saw him make just 14 Premier League starts as he tried to carve out a place in a star-studded line-up which claimed 100 points the previous term and racked up another 98 that season in successfully retaining their league title.
The winger ended the 2018/19 campaign with 12 goals in all competitions, the same amount he scored in the league in his final season at Leicester. It was a respectable tally, albeit not an overwhelming one from a player for whom the Cityzens broke their transfer record.
His first season at the Etihad was a brilliant one for the club as they won four trophies but a modest one for him as he tried to prove his worth to Guardiola. The following campaign was the inverse of that – frustrating for City as they fell well short of eventual Premier League champions Liverpool; redemptive for Mahrez as he found his feet in Manchester.
The Algerian ended the league season with 11 goals and 12 assists, setting up three goals in the opening day 5-0 thumping of West Ham and firmly winning over Guardiola, who said that the 29-year-old “played in a different level” in his second campaign at the Etihad and also described him as an “incredible talent” (as per mancity.com).
Do you think Riyad Mahrez has been worth the £60m paid for him?
Mahrez goes up against his former club this weekend as Leicester visit the Etihad and, while he may not have made it off the bench in Monday’s win at Wolves, his manager knows that the winger can be trusted to cause havoc in the final third of the pitch.
With 25 goals and 28 assists in 94 games for Manchester City, the Algerian has gone some way to repaying his £60m fee and proving that the club were right to go back in for him after the abortive January 2018 transfer.
Man City fans, what have you made of Mahrez’s time at the club so far? Comment below with your views!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience