As usual, Arsenal’s summer transfer window has been rather disappointing. After starting brightly in signing Granit Xhaka, manager Arsene Wenger has so far come up short in his search for a striker and a centre back.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Arsenal’s ongoing pursuit of reinforcements in these positions, it would appear that Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez has become available and he is one of those players which should be snapped up without hesitation.
Wenger has always maintained that he felt compelled to buy Mesut Ozil when he became available in 2013 irrespective of price by virtue of the sheer quality of the player. Does Mahrez fall into such a category?
The 25-year-old is thought to be destined for an exit from the Foxes despite Claudio Ranieri backing him to stay:
“He wants to stay here with us. He enjoys it, he is laughing. He is not a man who says ‘oh coach, I want to go.’ No, he is happy.”
Multiple sources including the Telegraph and France Football are now reporting that Mahrez is refusing to sign an £80,000 per week contract extension and seeks a new challenge, after previously admitting himself that he could leave Leicester (as quoted by The Mirror):
“We will see… For the moment I have not made a decision. We will see. It is possible that I stay, it is possible that I leave. We will see.”
Arsenal have been tipped as possible suitors and some of their fans have been losing their mind about the chance at acquiring the Algerian international.
After missing out on Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United, acquiring Mahrez would cure Arsenal fans’ transfer hangovers. Player of the season last year, the attacker scored 18 goals and 11 assists and would be devastating in a wide forward position for the Gunners.
Mahrez has tremendous vision and is adept at playing on both flanks just like Alexis Sanchez – more often than not as an inverted winger on the right side. He finished third best in the Premier League last season in through ball key passes and second best in the number of through balls played, stats which are both topped by Ozil. Wenger always looks to create the through ball passing style of play so Mahrez appears well suited.
The French-born Algerian international is also rather adept at dribbling, finishing second in the Premier League with 3.5 successful dribbles per game – runner-up to none other than Sanchez.
Hopefully the message here is clear: not only is Mahrez a technically gifted player who did very well for a counter-attacking team, he is one that can fit perfectly into Arsenal’s style of play and would resolve the problem of the right flank for Wenger whilst stretching teams with Hector Bellerin for support.
Whether this move will materialise is unclear. However, if Wenger loves the club half as much as he says he does, he should snap Mahrez up in a heartbeat.