Barcelona legend Xavi says Leicester ace Riyad Mahrez possesses the quality to play for Barcelona.
Riyad Mahrez broke onto the scene a couple of seasons ago after signing for Premier League newcomers Leicester City from a relatively unknown Le Havre side. The Algerian international showed glimpses of his magical ability in his debut season with the Foxes but the 2015-16 season put the spotlight on the winger.
Mahrez was arguably the best player in the Premier League and played a pivotal role alongside the likes of Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante in the Foxes’ unprecedented title-winning campaign.
The player was ever-present and consistent throughout last season as he notched up 17 goals and 11 assists in 37 Premier League games for the Foxes, which catapulted the player to the PFA Player of the Year award for the season (stats via whoscored).
Mahrez was linked with a host of top European clubs, with Barcelona the most prominent outside the Premier League, to be reportedly interested in the 26-year-old. The Catalan club were looking to add a wide forward to the squad but ended up signing Denis Suarez as there were some questions raised about Mahrez’ ability to sustain his form and his ability to match up with the play-style at Barcelona.
Mahrez was heavily linked with a late move to Arsenal but the player signed a new deal at Leicester to stay with the defending Premier League champions.
Barcelona legend Xavi was enquired as to which Premier League player he would love to sign for the club and the midfielder was quick in his response to say Mahrez. He also added that even though he wanted the player at the Catalan giants, he was more than happy to see the player stick with Leicester and was eager to see how Leicester cope with domestic and European expectations this season.
“[Riyad] Mahrez is good enough to play for Barcelona, but I am pleased he decided to stay with Leicester. He clearly must have had options, but if Leicester had lost their best player after such a big achievement it would have been a shame,” Xavi told Short List in an exclusive interview.
The former Spanish international added, “It will be interesting to see how him and Leicester perform in Europe this season.”
Xavi is not the only one who would be eager to witness the player and his current club’s exploits in Europe as the whole world would be watching with a keen eye to see if Leicester is able to sustain it’s miraculous title-winning form and handle the rigors of playing more than one game in a week on a regular basis.