Arsenal’s link to Riyad Mahrez has been ill-fated thus far, and so it should remain. Playing against the Gunners is the closest he will get to being one.
Thinking about Arsenal unloading tens of millions of pounds on Riyad Mahrez keeps me up at night. I respect the player enough, it’s not about that, it’s just a matter of ascertaining the needs of the team and knowing the state that they are in.
Of course, in the midst of their title-winning season, everyone wanted Riyad Mahrez. He was the PFA Player of the Year, despite only putting up six months of good numbers and then fading away into cruise control, a dip he has yet to recover from another year later.
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare has pointed out that Mahrez wants to be on a top six club, of which Arsenal are included, but I have to have faith in my club when I say that him playing against the Gunners is the closest he will ever get to being one.
As I have said numerous times, Mahrez is a safety net signing. As in, if the Gunners didn’t have anyone that could play the position and they failed in landing a first choice option like Thomas Lemar or Emil Forsberg, then we should be happy with Mahrez. He has his qualities and would play the role well enough.
But that isn’t the state that the Gunners are in. They have copious amounts of players that play the exact same position and they have been fervently chasing Lemar, who plays the position as well. Which moves Mahrez from the ‘safety net’ category to the ‘cop out’ category. He wouldn’t be playing much, he wouldn’t be producing much, and given hos strong Leicester are holding onto him, he would cost far too much to do that little.
Leicester should have sold him when they had a chance because the longer that they hover around in mid-table obscurity, the lower his price tag will go. He isn’t prolific enough to lift the team himself (few would be) and his numbers reflect that. The guy needs a bigger team to maximize his own abilities and if the Foxes aren’t willing to give him that, they don’t expect more than 15 or so goals contributed to every year. And that will be a good year for him.
That isn’t the kind of player that is needed at Arsenal and Arsenal isn’t the team that Mahrez wants right now. Share the pitch as opponents, because it won’t be shared as team mates any time soon.