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Is Riyad Mahrez putting himself in the shop window for January?

Tuesday 31st October 2017
Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez is enjoying a fine run of form lately, coinciding with the club's improvement in results. But how much longer will the Algerian remain with the Foxes?
Riyad Mahrez has endured a difficult last 12 months, having underperformed in 2016-17 while his future at Leicester was uncertain.

Here is why speculation may have led to his improved performances this campaign.

Mahrez showing glimpses of 2015/16 form

The 26-year-old began this season with a goal and an assist in Leicester City's opening two games. He then endured a barren spell, failing to make a meaningful contribution in the next five matches.

More recently, however, Mahrez has scored or created a goal in each of last four appearances in all competitions, including an assist in the latest encounter against Everton. He is beginning to showcase the form that led to his 2015/16 PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

The Algerian has made ten Premier League appearances this season, scoring once and providing four assists. He has also created 12 chances and made 21 successful dribbles. Mahrez is once again getting his name in the headlines.
A pacey, tricky winger, capable of beating his man and cutting inside to score and create chances, Mahrez is a real handful for any defender. Although he's not fully back to his best, his recent displays have helped turnaround Leicester's form.

Before his departure, former Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare lavished praise on the winger. He revealed that a 'kick up the backside' kept Mahrez focused on football rather than a potential move away from the club. Shakespeare said: ''I left him (Mahrez) out against Bournemouth, gave him a kick up the backside and he was excellent in training. You want the response and the right response,'' reports Goal.

What went wrong for Mahrez last season?

The 26-year-old was always going to struggle following Leicester City's title triumph. He wasn't the only player, though, as many of his teammates were in a similar situation. It took an entire season to recover.
Mahrez attracted interest in summer 2016, with Arsenal the favourites to secure his signature. But the Premier League champions wouldn't allow the talented winger to leave.

After previously rejecting a new deal at the King Power Stadium, Mahrez eventually signed a four-year contract, with the understanding that he could leave the following year. His form was patchy throughout last campaign, and it seemed he wanted to be anywhere other than Leicester City.

Having been involved in 28 goals during 37 Premier League games in 2015/16, scoring only 9 times in 26 matches the following season was a major disappointment. Mahrez tried to leave the club once again last summer, believing he had held his end of the agreement. Leicester's lofty asking price scared off interested parties though.

Where could he go in January?

Mahrez has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Barcelona among others. A realistic destination is still unknown. The Gunners, which may lose forward Alexis Sanchez and playmaker Mesut Ozil in near future, could benefit from signing an attacking player. But although Mahrez would fit in at the Emirates, the club won't pay over the odds to sign him.
The Leicester magician would have a chance at Tottenham, competing with Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min for an attacking impact role. Any approach from Spurs, however, could depend on the future of Erik Lamela who has spent past 12 months on the treatment table. Additionally, manager Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to overstock with forwards.

As for the Barcelona links, a replacement is needed for the injured Ousmane Dembele, but it's not likely that Leicester City's winger is the first choice. Barca have been keen on Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho for some time. The Brazilian will remain the priority in January, possibly beyond, leaving Riyad Mahrez looking elsewhere.
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.

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