Technically gifted, Mahrez was a skillful left-footed-winger who feature largely on the right, but who could play anywhere across the front line. He was a mesmeric dribbler with wonderful balance. He could pass with pin-point accuracy. A creative player, he scored some unforgettable goals and provided many assists. Slightly built, he was described by a City team-mate – and indeed many others in the game – as ‘a special, special player’.
His professional career began in 2009 with a year at Quimper in the French fourth tier. He then spent the next four seasons at the Ligue 2 side Le Havre before joining Leicester in January 2014. His new team were top of the Championship and destined to win the title that year.
The following season, he played a major part in City’s ‘Great Escape’ when the team avoided relegation from the Premier League. Riyad’s contributions to Leicester becoming the Premier League champions in 2016 were pivotal. He missed only one game, scored 17 goals and created many more. He was one of four Foxes players who were in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year.
The Algerian scored 48 goals for Leicester, as well as registering 38 assists.
He was both the PFA’s Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Year. He was nominated for the Ballon d’Or too. He was also chosen as the CAF African Footballer of the Year, the BBC African Footballer of the Year, the Arab Footballer of the Year, the Algerian Footballer of the Year and the Lion D’Or African Footballer of the Year. He was in the CAF Team of the Year and was City’s Player of the Season.
The following campaign, on the way to the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals, Riyad became the Club’s top scorer in that competition. In his final season at City (2017/18), he was attracting the attention of other clubs including Arsenal, Roma and Manchester City. He eventually transferred to Manchester City, who paid a club record fee to sign him.
As a Leicester player, Riyad became an Algeria international, featured in the World Cup Finals in Brazil in 2014, reached the last-eight of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015, and was in the AFCON squad for 2017. At Manchester City, Mahrez won 11 major trophies and captained Algeria in the postponed 2021 AFCON tournament. He also won a host of other individual awards.
He is currently playing for Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.
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