Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez is all set to turn down a new contract offer from the Foxes with FC Barcelona keen to sign the player, according to reports from England and France.
Mahrez had taken the Premier League by storm last season, helping Leicester City win their first ever Premier League title. The Algerian winger was an instrumental part of the Leicester side last season, scoring 17 goals and setting up 11 assists for his teammates.
Leicester had signed him for a paltry £375,000 from French side Le Harve in 2014. However, his brilliant performances and the subsequent Player of the Year award that he received last season have bumped his price up. Currently, he is valued at around £17 million by Transfermarkt, but is expected to cost much more than that.
His good performaces with Leicester have drawn the attention of many top clubs from all across Europe, with Chelsea and PSG said to be in the driver’s seat in the race to land the player.
Mahrez still has three years left on his current contract with Leicester, which would buy the club some leverage over a transfer fee. However, the 25-year-old’s wage is believed to be around £35,000-a-week, which is too low for a player of his stature. Leicester have been in talks with Mahrez for a new improved contract, worth £80,000-a-week.
However, those close to Mahrez believe that the Algerian international is set to reject the new contract offer, according to a report in French newspaper France Football.
While both Chelsea and PSG fit the bill of being ‘big clubs’, there are a few fundamental problems with taking a transfer to these sides. PSG are in a one-team-league with little competition, as they won the Ligue 1 by a massive 31 points last season. In fact, the second placed team, Lyon, were closer to the relegation zone (26 points) than they were to catching PSG.
Meanwhile, there is an air of uncertainty surrounding Chelsea this season, with the Blues failing to qualify for the Champions League. Mahrez reportedly wants to play in the Champions league in the upcoming season, which effectively rules Chelsea out of the running.
Barcelona have emerged as the latest candidates to land Mahrez’s signature, as the Leicester man looks for a move to a bigger club, according to a report in English publication The Guardian. The Catalan club are in one of the best leagues in the world, and are a side that makes it at least to the quarterfinals of the Champions League every season.
However, Mahrez might find it a bit difficult to nail down a regular spot in the Barcelona lineup. The Catalans already have a brilliant attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar to lead the line. Mahrez himself operates on the right wing, the same as Messi, which could make it problematic for the Algerian.