Why Leicester must be careful about over-pricing Riyad Mahrez
Three years ago he was worth less than half a million, now his employers want £50m. But are Leicester City setting the bar too high for Riyad Mahrez?
The Algerian is on the transfer market having informed the 2015-16 Premier League champions of his desire to move on.
But that was several weeks ago now, and as the new season looms, he remains very much a Fox.
And the main problem seems to be that Leicester want at least £50m for the Algerian.
Arsenal have been favourites to sign the 2016 PFA Player of the Year, and remain 1/5 to do so.
But the latest reports suggest the Gunners and Arsene Wenger are refusing to go higher than £35m.
And you can kind of see where Arsenal – and Barcelona if reports are to be believed – are coming from.
When you crunch the numbers, is Mahrez really worth what Leicester are asking for?
He’s had one – albeit incredible – season yet just three years ago was plying his trade in the lower regions of French football.
If he really wanted to make a name for himself and erase all doubts as to his ability to maintain consistent, top-level quality, then he needed to perform last season when the Foxes needed him most.
Yet six goals and just four assists was a drab return – and half of those strikes were from the penalty spot.
Even when Craig Shakespeare came in to succeed Claudio Ranieri, Mahrez bagged just three goals and supplied one assist in the final 13 games of the campaign.
So not only did Mahrez himself fail to produce the goods, Leicester may have got his market value all wrong too.
The Foxes must remember they cannot offer the 26-year-old European football this season, having handed him a taste of Champions League action last term.
The likelihood is that whoever does sign Mahrez will be able to offer continental action.
Then there’s the concern that if they ask too much for the star man, and no bids come in, that he’ll have to stick around for another year having spent all summer pining for a move elsewhere.
What if Mahrez produces another lukewarm campaign?
It’s easy to see why Leicester are playing hard ball – Mahrez is under contract for another three years.
But if they effectively force him to stay by pricing him out of the market, then another season of underperformance could leave the Foxes lucky to cash in £25m next summer, let alone £50m.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing