Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Serial winner could return to haunt Man City after admitting ‘unfinished business’ in Europe

Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez, formerly of Man City

Former Man City duo Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez

Manchester City may come up against Riyad Mahrez in the Champions League in the future after he admitted to having ‘unfinished business’ from his time in Europe.

Mahrez was a crucial part of the Leicester City team which rocked the Premier League by beating the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Man City to the title in 2015/16. The winger, who ideally likes to operate on the right flank, asserted himself as Leicester’s creative force by registering 17 goals and 10 assists in 37 league matches.

Mahrez’s excellent performances for the Foxes saw him earn a huge transfer to Man City in July 2018. According to Sky Sports, Pep Guardiola’s side paid £60million when taking the Algeria international to the Etihad, while also tying him down to a five-year contract.

Mahrez enjoyed massive success with his new club, helping them win four Premier League titles, one Champions League, two FA Cups and three League Cups. Overall, his record for the club stands at 78 goals and 59 assists from 236 games.

However, the wide man ended his glorious spell with City in the summer by heading to Saudi Pro League club Al Ahli. He was part of a wave of big names heading to the country, as Al Ahli paid City £30m for his services.

Mahrez, who is currently team-mates with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Allan Saint-Maximin, Gabri Veiga and Edouard Mendy, has so far made 14 appearances for Al Ahli, notching six goals and seven assists in that time.

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The 32-year-old has now conducted an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe, during which he has discussed leaving City, arriving in Saudi Arabia and being left on the bench for the Champions League final triumph against Inter. Interestingly, Mahrez went on to admit he has ‘unfinished business’ in the UCL, which suggests he could secure a big return to Europe in the next few years.

“I had two years left on my contract with Manchester City, I could have stayed,” he said. “It was really me who decided to leave. I felt that this opportunity would not come again.

Riyad Mahrez opens up on Man City exit

“Maybe it was time to leave because I had spent five years at City and won everything. Txiki Begiristain (City’s technical director) really wanted me to stay, and even Pep Guardiola. They made it clear to me. I weighed the pros and cons. And finally, I decided to leave. I don’t regret it, I’m happy to be here.”

“The level of the Saudi league is not bad,” he added. “It’s going to get better and better. It’s a championship that I’m learning.

“Here, they have put the resources into recruiting the best players. There’s definitely quality, I think it’s just the beginning. Can we compare it to Europe? I don’t think so yet. But at this rate, in the near future, they can be among the five, six or seven best Championships in the world.”

Winger admits to ‘taste of unfinished business’

Attention then turned to Mahrez being left out of the starting eleven against Inter in June, with Guardiola preferring to use Bernardo Silva on the right flank.

“To be honest, I still have a taste of unfinished business,” Mahrez declared. “In the Champions League, I did not play the semi-final or the final.

“In previous seasons, I always started in the Champions League while always being impactful for my team. This last year, I couldn’t say it went badly, but I have a bit of this feeling of unfinished business.

“I was offered four years in Saudi Arabia, in a Muslim country where I can definitely protect (and provide for) my family. There was also a new challenge, and a new project. So, I decided to leave, it wasn’t a big deal.”

Meanwhile, Guardiola will be delighted as a City transfer that makes sense for all parties has been talked up by a club chief directly involved in the negotiations.