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Leicester City without Riyad Mahrez

What does the future hold for Leicester City without Riyad Mahrez?

(Image via https://twitter.com/DZFootball_en)

 

Leicester City’s stunning 5000/1 Premier League title win in 2016 is usually looked back on as romantic and, in terms of their playing style, gritty, organised and - arguably the most important factor of all - hugely reliant on Jamie Vardy’s goals and the creativity and trickery of Algerian International Riyad Mahrez.

The immense team spirit shown by Claudio Ranieri’s resilient Foxes side was nothing short of admirable, but Mahrez’s displays on a near weekly basis stole the show. The rest is history, as they say, and that formula proved to be enough as Leicester City won the Premier League.

Times have changed

Fast forward to 2018 and Mahrez’s Leicester, alongside his performances overall this campaign, have come under some scrutiny. His hunger has been questioned and, after missing out on a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, he went AWOL and indicated, quite clearly, that he wanted to leave the club and join City’s title tilt. After the move failed to materialise and he returned to Leicester after essentially going missing, he said: "I was away from here because I needed some time to think, it was a difficult situation. Manchester City is a good move for everyone but it is the past. It is behind me.”

Mahrez added: “If we start talking about this it's like coming back to the transfer window and now I'm moving forward, trying to give my best for the team. You’ll always have regrets but at that time I thought it was the best thing to do.”

With Mahrez’s intentions evidently clear, Leicester City face losing one of their most important players, not just in their current squad, but in their entire history.

There’s no doubting Mahrez’s credentials and it’s hard to argue against the fact that he deserves a move to one of Europe’s bigger clubs. His trickery, flair and the entertainment factor he brings with him means he puts bums on seats. Any top side in Europe would want him as an option, certainly off the bench at the very least.

The Algerian has been linked with the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham in the past, where he was priced at 5/2 and 4/1 respectively to join either side by Ladbrokes at one stage. As with any transfer saga, though, prices tend to fluctuate a fair bit but there will certainly be a few twists and turns in the off season and a whole host of betting offers as interest in Mahrez undoubtedly resurfaces.

(Image via https://twitter.com/DeadlineDayLive)

Big summer ahead

Leicester, meanwhile, will be hoping their famous title win doesn’t ultimately result in a relegation fight next season, without the likes of Riyad Mahrez. Competition in the league will get stronger as always and Leicester, like many teams have in the past, need to be weary of suffering a demise after losing a key man, especially one in the mould of Mahrez who can change a game in an instant.

Jamie Vardy’s goals will be vital once again, a bit like they could be for England this summer in the World Cup should Harry Kane pick up an injury, with bet365, amongst others, giving the former Fleetwood striker odds of 50/1 to finish as the tournament’s top scorer. In fact, the 9/1 for Vardy to finish as England’s top scorer may be a bit of a snip, if he can get enough game time.

A potential new manager, a post-Mahrez transition and the danger of becoming over reliant on Jamie Vardy’s goals could put the Foxes in a spot of bother in 2018/19.

One thing is for certain, Leicester City will be heading into the unknown when they start life without Riyad Mahrez.