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Riyad Mahrez ‘frustrated’ at Leicester for blocking his transfer to ‘top team’ Arsenal after Premier League title win


RIYAD MAHREZ has revealed his frustration at being denied a move to ‘top team’ Arsenal in 2016.

The Algerian had just inspired Leicester City to their remarkable Premier League title triumph.

Mahrez was part of a struggling Leicester side between 2016 and 2018

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Mahrez was part of a struggling Leicester side between 2016 and 2018Credit: PA:Empics Sport
Arsene Wenger had hoped to sign the Algerian

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Arsene Wenger had hoped to sign the AlgerianCredit: PA:Press Association

But he was desperate to follow N’Golo Kante’s lead and leave the Foxes for a traditionally bigger club.

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Personal negotiations with Arsenal had been positive, but Leicester wouldn’t let him leave until his 2018 move to Manchester City.

Rather than show relief at having dodged a bullet, ultimately earning a better move and winning the league again in 2019, Mahrez bemoaned ‘losing two years’ of his career.

He told France Football: “After the title, if I’d left for a top team, it wouldn’t have been the same story.

“For me, it’s clear that I lost two years at the highest level. I lost two years! Because instead of arriving at City at 27, I could have been there at 24, 25.

“Leicester blocked me. They told me: ‘You’re not leaving, you’re not leaving’.

“My agent had spoken to [Arsene] Wenger who really wanted me. It was nearly all done with Arsenal in 2016. I was really frustrated.

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“It wasn’t easy to go from being the best player in the Premier League to being a part of a team fighting against relegation.

Mahrez eventually joined Man City in 2018

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Mahrez eventually joined Man City in 2018Credit: PA:Press Association

“It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting for you around the corner.”

Now 30, Mahrez is a regular for City, and looks set to pick up his third Premier League title winners’ medal in May.

The winger has also collected an FA Cup, two League Cups and a Championship title during his glittering career.

And in 2019 he even brought glory to his nation, winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria.

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This season he has bagged ten goals and laid on seven assists in 40 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s quadruple-chasing side.

Mahrez, 30, has enjoyed a trophy-laden career

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Mahrez, 30, has enjoyed a trophy-laden careerCredit: AP:Associated Press

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