Riyad Mahrez could miss Man City match after extending Leicester strike
Riyad Mahrez is set to extend his self-imposed strike and miss this weekend’s game at Manchester City, the club who failed to sign him on deadline day.
Mahrez has not reported for training with Leicester since last Monday and Claude Puel, the manager, is already preparing for the game at the Premier League’s runaway leaders without the £80million-rated winger.
Sources close to Mahrez claim the 26-year-old is unlikely to return to training for the remainder of the week as the fall-out from his aborted move to the Etihad Stadium threatens to cast a shadow over Leicester’s season.
Leicester are determined to play the situation carefully, declining to even confirm or deny whether Mahrez has been given permission to be absent, but it is understood there is growing exasperation behind the scenes over the situation. There are even some claims that Leicester staff are unsure over his precise whereabouts.
Mahrez missed training again on Tuesday and has now missed two Premier League games, against Everton and Swansea, plus four sessions at the club’s Belvoir Drive base.
Even if he was to perform a huge u-turn and report back this week, it is thought highly unlikely that he will be considered for Saturday’s evening kick-off against Guardiola’s title favourites.
Puel, like most Premier League managers, will start preparing his team on Thursday before a ‘shape’ session the following day and Mahrez is not expected to be in the right frame of mind to make himself available.
In a statement released after his deadline day move collapsed, Mahrez claimed he had been left “depressed” by Leicester’s refusal to accept a £60million cash offer from Guardiola.
The use of the word ‘depressed’ has placed Leicester in a difficult position, as they are reluctant to be seen as taking a hardline stance on Mahrez’s behaviour if it is proven he has a genuine illness.
Mahrez submitted a written transfer request last Tuesday – his second in six months – in a bid to force the move but Leicester were demanding a figure of £80m, which Manchester City refused to pay.
Leicester did propose a deal including attacker Patrick Roberts – halfway through a season’s loan at Celtic – but negotiations never got off the ground as Guardiola was not prepared to sell in January.