Is Riyad Mahrez justified in his anger at not being allowed to leave Leicester City?
By Joe Harker
Near the end of the January transfer window Premier League leaders Manchester City saw winger Leroy Sane hit with an injury.
So they started to pursue Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez but were rebuffed. Wanting a move to a top six Premier League club, Mahrez has seemingly gone on strike to express his displeasure at the move being shut down. The situation has become so bad that the PFA has offered to step in and help resolve the dispute.
Leicester are due to play Man City at the weekend and the expectation is that Mahrez will not feature in the game.
The Daily Telegraph reports that he has not reported for training for some time and suggested that Leicester staff may not even know where he is. It seems that he is intent on making his point that he is done with Leicester and is ready to move, but his behaviour has been criticised by some in the football world.
Former England striker Chris Sutton has accused Mahrez of acting like a "big baby" ever since the move to Man City fell through. He said: "He's a big baby isn't he? Leicester has put him on the map.
"He's disappointed not to go to a bigger club, I understand that, but he has to see out his contract - so get on with it. He is letting his managers and his team-mates down."
Sutton's assessment was met with agreement by Ian Wright, also a former England striker, and the latter also wondered why Mahrez's agent didn't put a release clause into the contract signed in 2016. If Mahrez wanted a move so badly then he should have planned ahead and demanded a release clause in his new deal. Wright said: "When he was signing for £90,000 or £100,000 per week, or whatever it is, why didn't someone say, 'we should put a clause in this'?"
Man City's attempt to sign Mahrez was scuppered due to the lateness of the deal and the fee not being deemed high enough. Leicester knew they would not have time to sign a replacement for the player and reportedly want a fee close to £100 million after seeing other talented forwards move for huge figures. While it makes sense for Leicester to reject the deal, Mahrez's behaviour could mean they lose him for much less than intended in the summer. If he doesn't train and doesn't play then they will likely end up having to sell. Mahrez may be criticised for his behaviour but it could end up getting him the move he wants.
The Daily Mirror has looked back at 10 other players who went on strike and concluded that it tends to result in a transfer sooner rather than later. Mahrez might play for Leicester again at some point but he may have also guaranteed the transfer he wants at the end of the season.