Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))

Ahram Weekly

The talk of England

Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez is trying to make history with Leicester City, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

From relegation battlers and bottom of the league with seven games to go last season, English football club Leicester City are today Premier League leaders and title favourites with 12 games to go, thanks to the brilliant attacking duo of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.

Mahrez in particular is the undoubted star of the season so far thanks to his 14 goals and 10 assists and most importantly his exceptional displays against the top guns in the county. The former French legend Thierry Henry said that Mahrez, who plays for the Algerian national team, would get into the starting 11 of any team in the world -- including Barcelona and Real Madrid -- if he can maintain this level of performance, and labelled him as the best player in the season so far by a country mile. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Yaya Toure, John Terry and many other superstars are praising the Algerian star after playing against him this season. Indeed, Mahrez played two of his best games against Chelsea and Manchester City, scoring and assisting in both games.

“Mahrez is unbelievable and is definitely one of the best players I coached throughout my career,” said veteran manager Claudio Ranieri who has trained some of the world’s best players in his long line of business. “Yes, he can easily play for Bayern Munich or Barcelona with these kinds of performances,” added the Italian coach when asked by a journalist if Mahrez can make the grade at a top team.

The Algerian magician was recently chosen as Algeria’s Player of the Year beating off stiff competition from Sporting Lisbon’s Silmani and Porto’s Yasine Brahimi who won the title in the last two years with both players having a great season in the Portuguese league so far.

As for Mahrez himself he’s already dreaming of winning the league title with Leicester this season after saying it’s impossible for them to win it earlier this season. "We are keeping the dream alive," Mahrez says. "We take it game by game and it is fantastic for the team and club and is amazing to be top of the league for a long time. We are dreaming at the moment and it is fantastic."

With 12 games remaining, Leicester have 53 points, two ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal.

If Mahrez can really guide Leicester City to the league title this season, he’ll surely be considered one of the greats of the Premier League, if not in history, at least in real time. But the player is playing down the significance of his own performances, saying that their team is without stars and play as one unit. "There is not one star, two stars, three stars -- we play and work for each other," Mahrez said.

"Every team has to have two or three players who score and this year it is Jamie and me. People can say a lot about us but we are just the same, just two players from Leicester City."

Only 12 games to go for Mahrez to make history in English football and maybe earn himself a move to Barcelona, who are said to be interested. His transfer value is said to have risen from £4.5 million to £30.1 million, ranking him among the top 50 most valuable players in Europe.

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