January 1, 2018 / 9:43 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer-Leicester's Mahrez finds form in time for January sales

Jan 1 (Reuters) - Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez continued his fine run of form in a 3-0 home win over Huddersfield Town on Monday that could well attract suitors with the January transfer window about to open.

After a potential move to Serie A side AS Roma broke down in the close season, unsettled Algeria international Mahrez found himself stuck at a club he felt he had outgrown.

“I am fiercely ambitious and feel now is the time to move on to a new experience,” Mahrez said at the time in a statement.

The 26-year-old had seemed destined for the Italian capital but two bids were rejected and, when the transfer window closed, Mahrez was faced with a fifth season at Leicester.

“We wanted a left-footed winger to replace Mohamed Salah and put it all on Mahrez, but the only reason he didn’t come was because the club (Leicester) wouldn’t sell,” Roma sporting director Monchi had told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

As a result, Mahrez did not seem his all-action self at the start of this season. Following two assists in his first two Premier League games of the campaign, he did not contribute to another Leicester goal in the next five matches.

However, he has been involved in 12 goals in 15 Premier League appearances since — scoring seven and assisting five.

December saw Mahrez really take his form up a notch.

He created more chances in each of the games against Burnley, Newcastle United and Southampton than in any of his 14 appearances before and more in total in those three matches than in the eight under Claude Puel’s predecessor Craig Shakespeare.

Then, after Leicester had an off day in losing at home to Crystal Palace, Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy for the opener against Manchester United, scored in the defeat at Watford and provided another for Vardy at Liverpool before a goal and assist against Huddersfield hours before the January window opens.

“I would like to keep all my best players,” Puel said after Mahrez’s fantastic display on Monday. “We will ask him the question. For me I am happy to play with the team with Riyad.”

Leicester fans will agree with that sentiment after seeing a player who was so instrumental to their 2015-16 Premier League title success return to his best form.

However, with Mahrez having already expressed a desire to leave, he could be angling for a move in the coming weeks. This time, Leicester may just get an offer they cannot refuse. (Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Ken Ferris)

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