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Rachid Ghezzal has failed to fill Riyad Mahrez’s shoes at Leicester City

Tuesday 1st January 2019
Leicester City's King Power Stadium
Leicester City's King Power Stadium

Supporters haven’t taken to Leicester City winger Rachid Ghezzal since his summer move from AS Monaco, with the Algerian international so far failing to make an impact in the Premier League. Ghezzal hasn’t scored or goal or made an assist since September and hasn’t started a top-flight game since November.

After losing Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City in July, Leicester signed Ghezzal as his replacement less than a month later for 960% of what they paid for Mahrez back in 2014, but he’s failed to fill the 27-year-old’s shoes and could go down as one of the worst Premier League signings of the summer.

Is Ghezzal good enough for the Premier League?

The Algerian winger’s numbers don’t make for good reading. Ghezzal has registered just three shots on target and has completed only 10 crosses in 12 league appearances – 0.83-per-game. He’s adept at beating his opponent in a one-on-one but isn’t making much impact in the final third.

Ghezzal has delivered the odd impressive performance, making five chances against Burnley on November 10 and being a bright spark in the second-half of Leicester’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on December 15. He’s underperformed for the majority of his appearances, however, and might be taken out of the spotlight.

Puel hasn’t handed the new recruit a start in the league for nearly two months and his poor form has led to Algeria dropping him from the national team. Ghezzal didn’t make the squad for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo in November and finds his career slowly unravelling before his eyes.

Ghezzal was out of form upon his Leicester arrival

The Leicester City players were quick to play down comparisons to Mahrez upon Ghezzal’s arrival at the King Power Stadium, and his woeful form in Ligue 1 may have been why. Since scoring and creating 16 league goals for Olympique Lyonnais in 2015/16, Ghezzal’s form has fallen off a cliff.

The 26-year-old’s final season at Lyon (2016/17) saw him score just two goals in 25 appearances and he didn’t fare any better at Monaco in 2017/18. He netted only twice in 26 games and made the majority of his appearances from the bench.

Leicester wasn’t signing an in-form player over the summer and it shows. Ghezzal appears low on confidence and is struggling to make the step-up in a demanding league. He’s only one year younger than Mahrez, has played with the Manchester City winger for the national team and is a left-footed right-winger who likes to cut inside.

The two players are alike, except in statistics, with Mahrez consistently outperforming Ghezzal on a season-to-season basis. The pressure to emulate a Leicester legend may have weighed heavily on Ghezzal, but his performances in the last two years also gave warning of things to come.

Puel was in charge of Lyon when the winger rose through the youth ranks to the first-team in 2012, but he’s been unable to unlock his abilities this season. Leicester paid £10m and agreed to a four-year deal for Ghezzal over the summer, but his debut season in the Midlands hasn’t gone to plan.

His long-term future at the King Power could be in doubt if he fails to turn things around in the second half of the campaign.

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Crippy Cooke

Crippy is a long-suffering Aston Villa supporter and weekly football accumulator enthusiast.

Stealing a living, the balding 27-year-old boasts a wealth of writing experience - Telegraph, Independent, Huffington Post, Zoo Magazine, Daily Mail, ITV Football, MSN Sport, Yahoo Sport, London 24 and Bleacher Report.

Total articles: 319

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