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Riyad Mahrez Shows How To Behave After Asking To Leave A Club

 • by Simon Collings
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It was on May 30 that Riyad Mahrez told Leicester City he wanted to leave.

Only a year prior to that he had helped the Foxes win the Premier League, despite the side starting the season as 5,000/1 underdogs.

However, after a season of mediocrity (certainly domestically if not on a European front), the winger had decided it was time to find a fresh challenge.

“Out of the huge admiration and respect I hold for Leicester City Football Club I wanted to be totally honest and transparent with them and have therefore informed the club that I feel now is the time for me to move on,” Mahrez said in a statement.

“I had a good discussion with the chairman last summer and we agreed at that time that I would stay for another year in order to help the club as best as I could following the transition of winning the title and in the Champions League.

“However, I am fiercely ambitious and feel that now is the time to move on to a new experience.”

It has now been 12 weeks since Mahrez made it clear that he wished to leave Leicester and still he remains at the King Power Stadium.

There has been reported interest from Arsenal, while he is a known Roma transfer target with the Italians seeing a £32million offer turned down for the winger.

Leicester, however, have been refusing to budge unless someone meets their £50million asking price.

Given what we have witnessed at other clubs this summer, it would not have been surprising to see Mahrez kick up a fuss.

Player power has always been an issue for Premier League clubs and it is certainly not a new phenomenon. One only needs to look back at the acrimonious circumstances by which Cesc Fàbregas left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2011 to understand that.

However, this summer, has seen the issue rear its ugly head to levels unseen before.

Diego Costa has been holed up in Brazil refusing to report back for training at Chelsea as he wants to join Atlético Madrid. Defender Virgil van Dijk was made to train alone by Southampton in July as his potential move to Liverpool hit the rocks.

Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez and Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho are locked in disputes with their clubs as they want to leave. Neither has played this season, although injuries are said to be the cause of that.

Prior to his move to Everton, Gylfi Sigurðsson was in the same boat too as he tried to leave Swansea City and the Iceland international did not travel on the club’s tour of the US because he was not ‘in the right frame of mind.’

Yet, while all this has been going on, there has not been a peep out of Mahrez at Leicester.

The winger did not miss Leicester’s tour to the Far East and he played a key role throughout the club’s pre-season preparations. In fact, he was one of the side’s best performers.

As mentioned, bids have come in for Mahrez but he has understood the club’s stance. He is allowed to go if his asking price is met, until then he is a Leicester Player. It is as simple as that.

While the likes of Costa and Van Dijk have thrown their toys out the pram, Mahrez has been a shining example with regards to how a professional should act when they have asked to leave.

He has not sulked, moaned or refused to play. Instead, the winger has got on with and he was the star of the show as Leicester beat Brighton at the weekend.

“When he’s like that he’s unstoppable,” said Foxes full-back Danny Simpson after.

“He was unlucky in the second half, he had a little [Diego] Maradona moment, and got his assists. The goals will come for him.”

Understandably Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare does not want to compare Mahrez’s behaviour to that of players at other clubs, but he is full of praise for his main man nonetheless.

“I don’t think it is for me to remark on the other clubs. All I can do is remark on the situation here with Riyad,” Shakespeare said.

“I think he made the statement that he made at the start of the season and everyone knows now the speculation in terms of the bid we had. But, it wasn’t accepted.

“I’ve spoken to him individually and said: ‘While you are here you need to be professional, you need to be respectful of your team-mates and Leicester City Football Club.’

“And credit to him, he’s done that. While he remains that focused, and we all know his ability on the football field, and while he remains in that frame of mind he will always be considered for selection.

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“He is the type of player that enjoys his football. If he’s not training, he doesn’t enjoy it when you give him a recovery session.

“He wants to train. He is always badgering me: ‘I don’t need a rest, I want to train, I want to train.’

“As you say, he wants to play all the time, he is that kid on the playground.

“It’s a credit to him and his personality. Of course, when there’s all the speculation, it’s hard for players to get their heads round it.

“For me, it should be quite easy. You perform and if you are asked to represent the football club that you are paid by, then you do that.”

The cynics will argue Mahrez has only started performing as he wants to impress any potential suitors watching him during the final days of the transfer window.

Others may claim the Algerian is back to his best because he has simply resigned himself to not getting a move.

Either way, the proof is on the pitch, and no one can knock Mahrez for being utterly professionally while those at other clubs have down tools at the start of the season.

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