Former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has suggested that Riyad Mahrez is currently out of form, arguing that the Algerian winger has not been able to have the same effect on the team as injured teammate Leroy Sane.
Mahrez was recently named as the 10th-best player in the world earlier this week in this year’s Ballon d’Or rankings and scored as a substitute in their 4-1 victory over Burnley on Tuesday, at which De Jong appeared as a pundit for Amazon Prime TV.
However, the Dutchman claimed that City have missed the input of Sane following his serious knee injury at the start of the campaign – as De Jong put some of City’s struggles down to the absence of the German, who netted 16 times in all competitions last season, with Mahrez failing to fill in sufficiently.
He said (via Manchester Evening News): “One of the players they miss as well is Leroy Sane. He was amazing last season, sometimes from the bench.
“He didn’t start a lot of games but when he came on, he was always that extra threat. He was also stretching teams out when they were tired.
“If you look at this season, I don’t really see Mahrez really doing that.
“He’s not really in form and they don’t have a lot of options when it comes to players who can give them that bit extra [off the bench].”
De Jong’s opinion that City miss Sane is fair enough given his performances in recent seasons, though to suggest that Mahrez is out of form in order to justify that seems almost bizarre.
Mahrez has scored twice in his last three league games, including the winner against Chelsea nearly a fortnight ago – hardly the look of someone ‘not really in form’.
The fact that Mahrez, who has started under half of City’s league matches this season, came off the bench to score against Burnley further dampens De Jong’s claim – even if the effectiveness of Sane (who started just 21 Premier League games in 2018/19) has been missing for the champions this term.
If anything, it seems Mahrez has rather capably filled the void that Sane has left behind while out injured, so De Jong may need to revise his theory that City’s points gap is down to the German’s injury lay-off.
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