Leicester leave Riyad Mahrez out of squad as he ‘clears his head’
The Algeria international had his heart set on a move to Manchester City.
Riyad Mahrez will not play for Leicester against Swansea on Saturday as he “clears his head”, with his return to the squad set to be carefully managed by the Premier League club.
Mahrez saw a move to Manchester City fall through on Wednesday, the final day of the transfer window. He was supposed to be part of the squad that played Everton that evening but he failed to show up and did not travel to Merseyside.
The 26-year-old has not trained for Claude Puel’s side since seeing his hopes of a dream move dashed.
CP: “I hope Riyad can clear his head and come back with us, because he’s a valuable player and I think his place is with his team-mates. We will deal with the details inside the Club, not in the public. It’s important we stay united, move on and keep focus on our play.” #LeiSwa pic.twitter.com/Ndt8rt2iw1— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 2, 2018
Manchester City pulled out of the deal as they were unwilling to match Leicester’s valuation of the player, which Press Association Sport understands to be £80million, so Mahrez, who has two and a half years remaining on his contract, will remain at the King Power Stadium at least until the end of the season.
“Riyad will not be available for this game,” said Leicester boss Puel ahead of the visit of Swansea.
“Just about Riyad, I think the club took this decision in the best interests of Leicester. We need to respect this decision. It is the best decision for the squad. We will reassess Riyad when he clears his head.
“It’s a tough situation for us and all of this is a situation we need to manage but all of the details will stay inside the club. It will be dealt with inside the club and not in public.”
#PEP: Mahrez is a Leicester player. I don’t talk about it too much. The transfer window is over so the guys who are here will finish the season.— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 31, 2018
There have been reports that Mahrez’s team-mates are angry and feel let down by his actions while a source close to the player himself has claimed he is “depressed.”
Puel insists there is a way back for the Algeria international, who played a starring role in Leicester’s shock Premier League title triumph two years ago.
“For Riyad, he can clear his head and he can come back with us because he is a very big player for us,” said Puel.
“He is crucial in our play and with his place in this squad and with his team-mates and it is important that we stay united.
“I have a good relationship with Riyad and now we have to manage this situation as professionals. We have to move forward and to have focus on the football. That’s the most important thing.
“His team-mates wait for Riyad, of course. They wait for him to be back in the squad because he is a valuable player.
“He is their friend and I think all the staff and all the players will help him to come back with a good mentality and a positive attitude and to enjoy his football with his team-mates.”
Mahrez’s continued absence means Puel will have an unchanged squad against Swansea.