Mahrez, 26, was the subject of a $90 million offer from Manchester City on transfer deadline day back on Jan. 31, but Leicester rejected the deal despite the Algerian winger handing in a transfer request for the second-straight transfer window.
Since then Mahrez was AWOL, as he didn’t turn up for training and missed Leicester’s last two Premier League matches as his manager, Claude Puel, refused to confirm when he’d return.
On Friday, a day before Leicester head to league leaders Man City (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), Leiccester revealed that Mahrez was back in training and he was a “greatly valued member of Claude Puel’s squad and is focused, together with his teammates, on achieving further success.”
The player himself has then had his say with plenty of speculation circulating about his state of mind following the failed move to Man City, plus reports suggesting he was out of the country as he missed training and games for the Foxes.
“Over the past ten days many people claiming to be my friend have spoken about me and things they know nothing about. Off the back of that many people and journalists have made assumptions without properly checking the story, so I would like to clarify that all those so-called assumptions of why I was absent are completely untrue.
Myself nor my advisors have ever made any statements about that so all presumptions made are totally without foundation. Leicester City were always aware of my whereabouts and had knowledge of my thinking either directly or via my advisors.
I have been a part of the Leicester City team that has achieved much success including promotion to the Premier League and being Champions of the League. My goals have always been the same and I have always given my full 100 per cent when I play for the club the fans and my teammates. Those goals remain the same today and in the future and when I am asked to be a part of the Leicester team, rest assured I will continue to give my all.”
So, Mahrez didn’t confirm where he has been but did say he was away from the club and Leicester were aware of his whereabouts.
Can this situation be salvaged? Of course it can. Leicester and Mahrez have been here before. He issued a public transfer request via his social media accounts last summer but following his poor form during the 2016-17 campaign (perhaps due to a hangover from the incredible title-winning campaign of 2015-16) Mahrez didn’t get his move.
Since Puel arrived at the King Power Stadium his form has improved drastically and he has eight goals and seven assists in 24 PL appearances this season with the Foxes battling for seventh place and a possible return to European action.
Saturday may be too early for Mahrez to return to action, especially against the Man City side who unsettled him 10 days ago, but it’s good news for the Foxes that between now and the end of the season they can count on him.
Having this played out in the public eye isn’t ideal for anyone but at least it is over… For now.