Arsene Wenger has admitted that he did not know about Riyad Mahrez when Leicester picked him up from the French second division.
The Algerian has taken the Premier league by storm this season and he seems like the quintessential Arsene Wenger signing from the first half of his time in England – young, unknown, ploughing his trade in the lower leagues in France and, perhaps more importantly, supremely talented with a nominal transfer fee.
Of course, Wenger can’t be expected to know about every player in world football at all levels – but isn’t that why Arsenal have scouts in countries across the globe?
“I didn’t know him,” Wenger said at his pre-Leicester press conference.
“He played second division in France. So they did very well (to sign him).
“Today he’s one of the dominant players in the Premier League.”
With 14 league goals and another 10 assists, Mahrez will certainly be one of the dangermen that Arsenal will have to stop of they are to cut Leicester’s lead at the top of the table – and he was signed from Le Harve for just £375k. That’s the same (or less) than Arsenal paid for Thomas Eisfeld, Kyle Ebecillo, Mikel Silvestre, Efstathios Tavlaridis, and Stefan Malz – and that’s just looking at players who cost under £1m (let’s not forget we paid £10.6m for Gervinho).
With City and Spurs facing off later in the day, it is imperative that the Gunners do all they can to maximise their return on Sunday.
Will we get a goalfest like we did in the reverse fixture? It’s unlikely, But as we’ve seen with games between these two sides over the years, they’re rarely boring.
I don’t care what we get on Sunday, as long as it results in Arsenal taking all three points.