Leicester City have unearthed some remarkable talents before selling them on for huge money, and there is arguably no bigger success story to their business plan than that of Riyad Mahrez. Born in the northern suburbs of Paris, Mahrez began his career with French lower-league club Quimper before a move to the more renowned but less enjoyably named Le Havre – reportedly after he had turned down offers from both Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille. His tricks then attracted attention from further afield and a move to then-Championship Leicester for just £400,000 was confirmed in January 2014. His career has been filled with little but success ever since.
Promotion to the Premier League was secured at the end of his first season in England, before Mahrez went to the World Cup with Algeria. Leicester then made a famous surge to safety under Nigel Pearson, before his replacement, Claudio Ranieri, led Leicester and Mahrez to the greatest title triumph of the modern era. Mahrez, the 2015/16 PFA Player of the Year, stayed for two further seasons before moving to Manchester City for £60m. Despite doubts as to whether he might struggle for first-team football, he played a key role in his first season as City recorded a colossal 98 points and became the first team since Manchester United in 2009 to retain the Premier League title. “Riyad is an exceptional player,” says his manager, Pep Guardiola. “For the quality, the passes and especially his mentality and aggression to score goals.”