The Departing Algerian – Three Players Who Leicester Can Target As Replacements For Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez stirred up a hornet’s nest earlier this summer, when he declared publicly that he wanted to leave Leicester City in the transfer window.
The Algerian international, who was a pivotal part of the Leicester team that created history back in 2015/16 season by winning the Premier League title, did not have the best of the campaigns last time around as the Foxes struggled to reach the same heights of their miracle season. Following which, Mahrez took to the media and made his intentions clear, stating that he didn’t see his future at the King Power Stadium.
There has been reported interest from the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona, but the most concrete interest has been shown by Serie A side AS Roma, who reportedly, have had two bids rejected for the 26-year old by the Foxes. Now, the player himself has revealed that he would have liked to have a chance to negotiate with the Italians in order to complete a move.
“I know Roma came in, but nothing was accepted so there is little I can do,” he told Sky Sports News HQ.
“They are a great club who I would like to talk to but I can’t until Leicester accept a deal.
“Leicester know my thoughts, but I will continue to give my best for the club as I always have.
“Clearly it is flattering whenever you get linked with any big clubs but, as it stands, I have not talked to anyone as nobody has had a bid accepted but we nearly have a month left of the transfer window so we will see what happens.”
These statements have further fueled speculations that Mahrez will very much likely be allowed to leave in the summer, with the Giallorossi being the likely destination. If Leicester do end up selling Mahrez, here are three replacements that they should consider signing.
Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)
The 23-year old Italian has been earmarked as one of the most promising youngsters to be coming through in the Serie A and rightly so.
Berardi, a product of the Sassuolo academy, had an excellent season last time around, finishing with a brilliant tally of 10 goals and 11 assists from only 25 games in all competitions. Capable of playing on either flank and as a secondary striker, the Italy youth international brings very much the exact similar attributes that Mahrez brought in for Leicester – dribbling. an eye for a pass, a mean left foot and a huge danger from direct set-piece situations.
Berardi has two more years left on his contract with the Italians and may consider a move to England.
Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon)
Another exciting young prospect, the Portuguese wideman plays for Sporting Lisbon. The 22-year old Gelson Martins burst onto the scenes of Portuguese football a couple of seasons ago and has never looked back. An exciting winger with pace and energy, he finished the previous campaign with a return of 7 goals and 14 assists from 44 games in all competitions.
Having made his debut for the Portugal national team only last October, he has already played on 11 occasions for the Seleccao. A top-notch dribbler with quality end product, Martins can be an effective outlet down the right flank.
Martins signed a new contract only in February earlier this year and still has five years left on it, leaving Sporting in a strong position to demand a large fee.
Jonathan Cafu (Ludogorets Razgrad)
The 26-year old has attracted interest from the likes of West Ham United and several French clubs over the course of the summer and Leicester too should consider taking a look at him, if Mahrez leaves.
Cafu enjoyed a fine 2016/17 campaign for Bulgarian club Ludogorets Razgrad, finishing with 14 goals and 11 assists in 45 outings from all competitions. Extremely fast and an equally potent dribbler of the ball, the Brazilian has often shown that he can breeze past opponents and find the back of the net on a consistent basis. Able to play out wide or cut in from the flanks effectively, he has shown great abilities despite peaking a little late in his career.
Cafu just has a year left on his deal with Ludogorets and with the club getting knocked out of the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages, the winger might well be open to a move.