As Arsenal odds to sign Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez have been slashed, we decided to take a look at how we got to here and what the chances of us actually making a move are.
The forward signed for the Foxes from Ligue 2 club, Le Havre, in 2014 on a three-and-a-half-year deal worth a ridiculously cheap £400,000. A year later, when the world started to perk up and notice that he wasn’t half bad, he extended this deal to 2019.
Now, Arsenal have been linked with the Algerian, particularly last season. His style of play suits us and it’s no wonder that he turned Arsene Wenger’s head.
Initially, Mahrez’s agent said that the 25-year-old was happy at Leicester and this was before they even won the League. However, as this was back in September, this is also before he had a brilliant campaign and began to catch the attention of a lot of large European clubs.
Fast forward to March, there are still rumours tying the former Le Havre forward to Arsenal, and the Foxes’ boss, Claudio Ranieri, claims that he would allow any player to leave if they approached him asking to do so.
“We want to keep all our players,” he said.
“We believe in them. But if a player comes to me and says: ‘Boss, I want to go there because it’s my ambition to go there’. I’ll say: ‘Go and enjoy and have good luck’.”
Wenger rubbished the claims that we were talking to Mahrez, although it should be noted that this wasn’t because he wasn’t interested but out of respect for Leicester.
“No, and even if there was I would not speak about that at this stage of the season [out of] respect to Leicester,” he said in April of this year.
Mahrez himself then said that he would be staying in the Midlands next season.
“Yeah, yeah [I’m staying at Leicester],” he confirmed after he’d lifted the Premier League trophy with his teammates.
“I am very happy and very proud to have this trophy. Some things are just amazing.”
This is where it gets interesting
Despite what he said at the end of last season, clearly in the heat of the moment, Mahrez’s agent claimed in May that it’s 50/50 whether he stays at Leicester or not next season. He said that, although the 25-year-old is happy, at ‘his age’, if a decent offer comes in, he may have to take it.
In June, Mahrez said he was flattered by the interested from Arsenal and that although nothing is agreed, ‘we will see’. Meanwhile, Leicester slapped him with a £30m price tag.
Over the weekend, the French media began reporting that the forward wanted a ‘new challenge’ and odds were slashed on Mahrez to Arsenal (7/2), despite previous interest from Manchester United (10/1) and current pressure from Chelsea (5/1) – he’s 1/1 to remain.
Not only this, but he’s reportedly turned down a new, £80,000 – £100,000 a week deal with the Foxes (depending on which outlet you believe) in favour of a potential £120,000 elsewhere. The Leicester Mercury claims this isn’t true though.
Could he joined Arsenal? I’m not convinced Chelsea won’t plough in with a huge bid to blow everyone out the water.
Update: Odds on Mahrez to Chelsea were slashed from 5/1 to 3/1.