• Mahrez: I was on Liverpool’s radar before Man City move

    Riyad Mahrez has claimed that Liverpool ‘were interested’ in his services before he joined Manchester City, but Mohamed Salah’s move to Anfield scuppered any potential deal.

    Mahrez proved to be one of the shrewdest acquisitions in Premier League history after completing a £450,000 move to Leicester from Le Havre in 2014.

    The Algeria international made 179 appearances for the Foxes in total, scoring 46 goals, and earned the PFA Player of the Year award in 2015-16 after inspiring their stunning title triumph under Claudio Ranieri.

    Leicester managed to retain the 29-year-old’s services for the following season amid intense transfer speculation, with the winger once again integral during the team’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Mahrez asked to leave the club in the summer of 2017, but was made to wait a year before securing a £60-million ($74m) switch to City.

    The former Leicester star says that he could have ended up taking a different career path, having been targeted by Liverpool while at the peak of his powers at the King Power Stadium.

    In the end, the Reds opted to bring in Salah from Roma instead, with Mahrez revealing the details of the failed move during an interview with beIN Sports on Instagram Live over the weekend.

    He said: ‘Before signing for Manchester City, there was interest from Liverpool in me, but as soon as they took Mohamed Salah, it was finished.’

    Mahrez struggled to adapt to life at the Etihad Stadium during his first full season with the reigning Premier League champions, but was enjoying a far more prominent role under Pep Guardiola before the current campaign was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

    The mercurial attacker had eight goals and 14 assists to his name from 37 outings having rediscovered the consistency of his Leicester days, grasping the opportunity to play more regularly with both hands after a serious injury to Leroy Sane.

    Mahrez was also buoyed for a strong second year at City after Algeria’s stunning triumph at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as Djamel Belmadi’s side beat Senegal 1-0 in the final to win the trophy for the second time in the country’s history.

    At the moment, Afcon is staged every two years alternating between winter and summer, but the City ace is of the opinion that the tournament should follow the same format as the World Cup so that club football is unaffected.

    ‘Let’s make Afcon once every four years and in summer,’ Mahrez added. ‘We loved Egypt, it wasn’t too hot. Every two years and in winter, that is why African football is not respected.

    ‘You have a crazy amount of action in your own clubs, then you leave for two months.’

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