The Riyad Mahrez situation should be enough to turn anyone off elite-level football.
26-year-old Algerian Mahrez has become fed up of doing his job and has simply stopped. To justify it, he says he’s depressed. To make it worse, his employer is just sitting back and almost accepting that it’s part and parcel of the game now. If that’s the game, it’s hard to know why anyone would bother with it.
Perhaps the worst thing is – everyone is complicit.
Riyad, my friend. You came from Le Havre. Yes, you were nominated for the Ballon d’Or (so were Jamie Vardy and Rui Patricio) after you won the Premier League, but if we took that Premier League season at face value, Wes Morgan’s transfer fee would tower over Virgil van Dijk’s.
Ok, so he’s a ‘difference-maker’. But he’s also been completely enhanced by the fact he plays alongside a natural goalscorer and is given the freedom to just attack. He physically picked up a pen and signed a four-year-deal with Leicester City after they won the league, as if he must have thought they’d repeat the feat? A year later and he’s so stunned he hasn’t gotten another Ballon d’Or nomination, that he wants out of the east midlands.
It would appear it’s hard to relate to footballers because, not only are they wealthy beyond all reason, they’re also thick.
Probably, his agent has lots to do with this whole scenario. You know – the same agent who told him to sign the contract that’s blocking this move in the first place?
Their soft approach to this whole situation has been nauseating. They’re sitting on the fence because they believe he can make a difference when he comes back – yet they expect themselves to be taken seriously in future dealings with players. Better footballers have played for Leicester City before Mahrez, and better ones will do so again.
A bit of self-respect goes a long way, and not engaging in negotiations with his advisors, his agent and accepting the PFA as mediators would set a precedent that they’re above any one player.
Sometimes it’s sad to watch player power in action. Other times, you have to remember the clubs allow it to happen with stances like this. Mahrez shouldn’t be paid a cent until he turns up; then he should be hit with a massive fine, forced to train with the U23s and shipped off to be made an example of. In reality, he’ll be made captain, given more money and the Foxes will roll out some cringey social media post with him speaking to some locals over pie and mash – before finding his new contract inside, next to the steak and kidney.
Just – why? Far be it from us to question Guardiola’s recruitment policy, because he’s pulled players from nowhere who have gone on to overachieve in his system. But in what world is Riyad Mahrez required? You have an injury problem for eight weeks? Manchester City have one of the biggest youth academies in Europe – utilise it.
We’re pretty much acquiescing to billionaires ruining the sport if we find it acceptably to pay that much money for a two month stop-gap winger who’ll not be in the first-team come the start of next season.
The fact City could just take him in the summer for half the price means that there’s no real financial planning and that Guardiola basically has a blank chequebook to do with as he pleases. There must be a lot of pressure to buy when you’re only thirteen points clear atop the Premier League.