Riyad Mahrez confirmed that Leicester City blocked him from moving to Arsenal in 2016.
Now 30, Riyad Mahrez has two years left on his current Manchester City deal.
The Algerian winger moved to the Etihad in 2018, two years after Arsenal came close to signing him only from Leicester only for the Foxes to refuse to do a deal which is, of course, their prerogative.
Speaking to France Football in 2019, Mahrez clarified the situation in quotes that have been recently published in the Evening Standard.
“After the year of the title win, if I was in a top team, it would not have been the same story,” Mahrez argues. “For me, it is clear that I lost two years at the very highest level.
“I lost two years! Because instead of being 27 at City, I could have been there at 24, 25 years. Leicester blocked me. They told me: ‘You do not go, you do not go!’ My agent had talked with Wenger who really wanted me, it was almost done with Arsenal in the summer of 2016.
“I was really frustrated. It’s not easy to go from being one of the best Premier League players to being part of a team fighting to stay up. It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting on you at every turn, everything falls to you.”
As I noted, these quotes were first published in 2019, something you can see they don’t mention in the Evening Standard report above. Why are they coming out again now? Is it simply because there is little-to-no Arsenal news? Perhaps.
Perhaps Mahrez will be looking for a move this summer and wants to remind Arsenal of how much they wanted him back in 2016 when Arsene Wenger was still at the club.