Riyad Mahrez talks up former Leicester team-mate Harry Maguire
The England defender impressed at the World Cup.
Riyad Mahrez believes his former Leicester team-mate Harry Maguire has proved during the World Cup that he belongs at the highest level.
Mahrez this week left the Foxes for Premier League champions Manchester City in the hope of taking his career to the next step.
Centre-back Maguire could now also find himself a man in demand as a result of his eye-catching performances during England’s run to the semi-finals in Russia.
Mahrez, speaking at his unveiling at City, said: “I believe ‘H’ is a very good player. Since the day he came to Leicester, and after the season he had last season as well, it doesn’t surprise me when I see his level at the World Cup.
“Of course he deserves to play higher but Leicester are a good club as well, so let’s see. He’ll have to decide.”
Mahrez has been one of the most consistent forwards in the Premier League in recent seasons, with his player-of-the-year winning performances in Leicester’s stunning title success of 2015-16 particularly standing out.
Yet after his club record £60million move to the Etihad Stadium he joins a team already bristling with attacking talent. City set new records as they accumulated 100 points and scored 106 goals in winning the title by a 19-point margin last season.
“I’m confident I can help the team,” Mahrez said. “I showed in the last three years in the Premier League that I deserve to play at the highest level and now I have to show it.”
Such was City’s dominance last season that Mahrez thinks, by the second half of the campaign, they had mentally already beaten some teams before games even kicked off.
He said: “At home we had a good game. We didn’t think we were going to lose but we did.
“But after City started winning every game you were like, ‘Ah, I think we’re going to lose today, it’s going to be difficult’.”
Mahrez is pleased to have finally become a City player after the controversy of his collapsed move in January.
Mahrez temporarily stopped training after the Foxes refused to lower their reported £95million asking price for the Algerian and City pulled out of a potential deal.
What happened then is something Mahrez wants to put behind him.
He said: “They (City) offered and Leicester rejected the offers, but it’s the past. Now I’m here and I’m happy. This is the past and we are looking forward now.
They have everything to try to win the Champions League. That's why I am here. Riyad Mahrez
“The most important thing is I’m here. I’m starting a new challenge and a new life. It’s a good thing.”
After their title success, City are now striving to win the Champions League and that ambition was of huge appeal to Mahrez.
He said: “They have everything to try to win the Champions League. It is a goal. Last season they lost in the quarter-final and I know they have the ambition to go further the next season.
“That’s why I’m here, why I made the decision to come here, because I want to be part of this.”