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Riyad Mahrez – Destined for greatness?

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From an unknown youngster to a Premier League hotshot, the rise of Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez suggests his football career has a big future.

When the Algerian arrived in English football in January 2014 from Le Havre very few people knew what he was capable of, but his growth in the Championship and now the Premier League has seen him become one of Leicester’s most valuable players.

He scored his first goal for the Foxes at the City Ground; an 82nd-minute equaliser against local rivals Nottingham Forest. Once he’d settled into life in England manager Nigel Pearson saw Mahrez as a regular in his starting eleven, leading to three goals and five assists which contributed to Leicester’s title-winning season.

His skilful dribbling and tricky feet instantly made him a fan favourite and he was going to play an integral part in Leicester’s return to the top flight. Despite a tough season for the club and some games missed due to his participation in the African Cup of Nations, Mahrez still managed to score four goals and create three for the team.

As well as his obvious aptitude for playing football, he has come across as a very humble player who clearly enjoys his football. With a number of young players heading in the wrong direction in the modern game, it is encouraging seeing Mahrez’s head in the right place and not letting wages or interest from top clubs distracting him from his game.

The 24-year-old’s form in England earned him a call-up to the Algerian national side, just ahead of the World Cup in Brazil last year. His first international goal came in the same month as his first Premier League goal; an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi in which he also earned an assist.

Mahrez has begun to perform consistently on the international stage; scoring three goals and producing ten assists in his 18 appearances for Algeria.

Last season in the Premier League Mahrez scored four goals, but this season he has returned stronger scoring four in the first three games, making him the league’s top scorer. His form has played a big part in Leicester’s strong start to the season, which sees them 3rd in the league and unbeaten in their opening four matches.

At his best Mahrez is too much for any defence in the league to handle and since terrorising Sunderland on the first day, he has proved to be unstoppable against West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur as well.

With no international duties mid-way through the season this year, Mahrez will be able to give his all for the Foxes and reach new heights in his career. If the team continues their fast, counter-attacking football he will be able to carry on scoring goals and assisting his team mates. He will no doubt be one of Leicester’s most influential players this season as they embark on a new era under Claudio Ranieri.

The Algerian reportedly attracted interest from Tottenham last season but with Leicester retaining their Premier League status there was no doubt he would stay with the Foxes.

Mahrez signed a new four-year deal with the club last month, something which could prove to be one of Leicester’s best business deals this summer.

While there is no concern over Mahrez leaving Leicester anytime soon, he has been linked with Arsenal and even European giants Barcelona recently indicating he could go on to great things. Signing a player of Mahrez’s calibre for around £400,000 a couple of years ago is a piece of scouting genius from the club and should he leave in the future there will be a huge return on his heavy price tag.

Ranieri has said Mahrez is not for sale, so for now Leicester fans can sit back and enjoy what the Algerian has to offer; his skills and passion for the club is something to be admired and it will be interesting to see what he could achieve this season.

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About Mark Sheppard

I am an 18-year-old Journalism and Media student at De Montfort University, Leicester. I enjoy writing, especially about sport because my interests involve football, snooker, rugby, F1 and tennis.

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