Riyad Mahrez is reportedly set to snub Real Madrid to make the move to Barcelona from Leicester in the summer.
Spanish publication Diario Gol have reported that Riyad Mahrez is eager to team up with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, thereby rebuffing the approach from Real Madrid to sign the Leicester City winger in the summer transfer window.
Mahrez has been an instrumental figure for Leicester ever since he made the switch to the King Power Stadium in January 2015. In fact, the Algerian was a revelation in the 2015/16 season as he shepherded the Foxes’ shock Premier League winning campaign, while also winning the PFA Player of the Year award.
However, 2016/17 was a difficult season for both Leicester and Mahrez, as a below par campaign saw the club surrender their league title meekly, with the player managing a paltry return of 10 goals and 7 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions.
Mahrez, though, seems to have played his last match for Leicester, in all likelihood, after he handed a transfer request to the club last month. And the player is set to spark a transfer battle between two fierce rivals, with Barcelona and Real Madrid set to go head-to-head for him this summer.
Barcelona, too, endured a below par campaign by their lofty standards as they relinquished their La Liga crown to Real Madrid and bowed out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. Ernesto Valverde is, thus, keen to make improvements to his squad in the summer to mount sustainable challenges for the aforementioned trophies next season.
Attack is believed to be one of his priorities, with the Barcelona boss having little to choose from beyond Lionel Messi and Neymar on either side of the front trio. Hence, Mahrez has emerged as a top target for Valverde to bolster his options on the wings.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid boss is keen to maintain the winning momentum after clinching the La Liga and Champions League titles this season. And with the likes of James Rodriguez and Isco being heavily linked with summer exits from the Santiago Bernabeu, there is a need to make reinforcements in attack.
Zidane is, therefore, eyeing Mahrez – a player he admires a lot – and has asked Florentino Perez to make contacts with the player over a move in the summer transfer window. But, the report suggests that Real Madrid are set to face disappointment in their pursuit of the Algerian as he prefers Barcelona.
Mahrez’s representatives have been in talks with Barcelona for a long time now, but no formal offer has yet been made. The stumbling block for the Blaugranas seems to be the transfer fee, with the player set to command a price of €40 million.
It now remains to be seen if Barcelona are able to negotiate a lower amount for Mahrez in order to secure the services of their target man in the summer. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Chelsea are also interested in the Algeria international and it remains to be seen if they can persuade him to remain in the Premier League.