Riyad Mahrez holds ‘huge admiration and respect’ for Leicester City, which is why he has now decided that the time is right to turn his back on the club that has done so much to improve his bank balance.
Mahrez was spotted by Leicester City scout Steve Walsh while on a jolly in Le Havre in which he had intended to watch a different player altogether. This was also before 1664 replaced Lucozade as Steve’s preferred choice of sports drinks, rather than merely a date to commemorate the defeat of the Ottoman Empire (almost certainly on penalties).
For his part, Mahrez had never heard of Leicester (or the Ottoman Empire either) and assumed they were something to do with rugby – like those big guys who hung out in the café down the road, enjoying muscles with their frites (and mussels). The next morning, though much was a blank to Steve, his new friend had performed some amazing juggling acts with a ball and he felt that he would fit right into the circus back at Filbert Street, or…
Having run away to join a travelling troupe of Foxes, Ryad’s fears about the physicality of English football quickly evaporated, once he knew that Wes would look after him. Wes was the captain after all, and, well, big.
Leicester duly did what Leicester do: gained promotion; almost got relegated; won the Premier League; almost got relegated but then got to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Ryad was there throughout, becoming the first African to win the coveted PFA Players’ Player of the Year, as canny footballers united to make sure that Jamie Vardy didn’t get it for diving.
To be fair to Riyad, he does have ‘huge admiration and respect’ for Leicester City and had a good chat with the Leicester chairman at the end of their title-winning season, after which he generously agreed to stay on for another season, with Champions League football and lots of money to spend on facial hair styling being secondary to his ‘fierce ambition.’
Riyad played no part in the downfall of Saint Claudio or any other Shakespearian plots because Riyad is not one for theatricals. His loss of form last season was nothing at all to do with other Premier League footballers having worked both him and the entire Leicester City team out; more a case of ‘flash in the pan’ than flesh on the bones.
No, Riyad is still ‘fiercely ambitious’ as well as being honest and transparent. He has seen N’Golo Kanté kick on and kick anything that moves, while still being able to wear a blue shirt, and, obviously, that is appealing to one whose transfer value has risen to possibly a half-Pogba. Not that it is about the money for Riyad and never has been because he has ‘huge admiration and respect’ for Leicester City.
By the time you read this, Arsene Wenger may himself have had 1664 drinks to celebrate a new pension plan at Arsenal and mistakenly signed Riyad, believing him not to be a luxury midfielder item, of which he already has plenty to waste.
For Riyad’s part, being ‘fiercely ambitious,’ the Europa League must shine out like floodlights missing a few bulbs but, hey, while Leicester count the cost of losing all those Facebook fans from Algeria, Riyad will be free to count and put on the pounds elsewhere.