After months of being linked with the club, Riyad Mahrez finally joined Manchester City this summer, becoming the Premier League champions’ first major signing of the transfer window. The 2015/16 PFA Player of the Year, who joined for a club record £60m and will wear the same number 26 shirt he sported at Leicester City, will be hoping to add to the surprise Premier League winner’s medal he won in his four and a half seasons at the King Power Stadium.
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 materialised – reportedly after he had turned down offers from both PSG and Marseille. Despite his slender build, Mahrez prioritised his skills on the ball – and these soon attracted scouts from overseas. A move to then Championship club Leicester was confirmed in January 2014, with promotion to the Premier League secured at the end of that season. Having made his World Cup debut for Algeria that summer, Mahrez made his English top-flight debut in a 2-2 draw at home to Everton in August.
A dramatic late surge to safety characterised Leicester’s first season back, before Nigel Pearson was replaced by Claudio Ranieri and that shock title success ensued – with Mahrez absolutely integral to the championship win, his 17 goals and 11 assists earning him the aforementioned PFA Player of the Year award. Neither Mahrez nor Leicester came even close to reproducing the heroics the following season, despite a run to the last eight of the Champions League; but 12 goals and 10 assists last season represented a return to form for Mahrez – and that form has earned him a dream move to join Pep Guardiola at the Etihad.