For Riyad Mahrez, leaving Leicester City was a chore.
The Algeria international wanted to leave after the title winning season under Claudio Ranieri, but, unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the final say; the Foxes did.
Originally wanting to leave in 2016 with Arsenal interested, the forward didn’t get his wish granted until 2018, when Manchester City paid £61m for his services.
Now being managed by Pep Guardiola and alternating with Bernardo Silva down their right-hand side, Mahrez is pleased to be playing at the top level, even if he feels he could and should have started doing so two years prior.
Speaking to France Football, he made things very clear: “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. (He insists) 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 Wenger who really wanted me. It was nearly all done with Arsenal in 2016. I was really frustrated. 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. It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting for you around the corner”.
For the Gunners, it was an area they desperately needed to fill, and never really managed to until this summer when they spent about £70m or so on Nicolas Pépé.
In the meantime, Mahrez stayed at Leicester against his will until Manchester City provided the key to get a deal done: a hefty cheque.
They put that money to good use in the end, and now find themselves second in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers, a point ahead of a certain Riyad Mahrez’s side.