• Mahrez reveals how close he came to joining Arsenal

    Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez has revealed that he came close to joining Arsenal back in 2016.

    The Algeria international was one of the stars of Leicester’s astonishing Premier League title triumph in 2015-16.

    Mahrez scored 17 goals and provided 11 assists on his way to winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award as Claudio Ranieri’s side finished 10 points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table.

    The winger was keen to seal a move away from the King Power Stadium after his exploits that season, but Leicester stood firm and kept hold of him for the subsequent campaign.

    Mahrez even spent 2017-18 as a Leicester player, before joining Manchester City in July of last year.

    And the former Fox has spoken of his frustration at failing to leave Leicester earlier in his career, as well as revealing that Arsenal almost prised him away from the East Midlands three years ago.

    ‘After the title, if I had left for a top team, it would not have been the same story,’ he told France Football.

    ‘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 [from moving]. 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. 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.’

    Mahrez has made eight Premier League appearances for City this term, but he was not involved in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat by title rivals Liverpool at Anfield.

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