Two former blues stars sang the praises of a delicate striker who took his game to new heights at Etihad stadium
Riyad Mahrez was a bit ‘predictable’ when he joined Manchester city, admits Paul Dickov, but the Algerian winger is now considered a “leading player” who can sometimes seem “unplayable”.
The Blues have invested heavily in a man who inspired Leicester to a remarkable title triumph in 2016, with the PFA Player of the Year award winner taking home £ 60million ($ 82million) in 2018.
The deal made Mahrez City’s record signing and propelled him into the brightest spotlight of the Etihad Stadium.
Fierce competition for places meant he was not always guaranteed a starting place under Pep Guardiola.
He has progressed up the pecking order, however, and has now taken 116 appearances for the Blues – winning another top-flight English crown along the way.
Mahrez’s ability to create from the flanks has never been in doubt, but Dickov says his the game has become more complete lately, because he no longer relies solely on working the ball on his left foot.
The former city striker told the club official site of a player with 30 goals and as many assists to his credit: “Over the past 18 months, he’s mixed things up a bit.
“We know he likes to play on the right side. I wouldn’t say he was predictable because he has fantastic talent, but he often happened to his left.
“Now he makes defenders think a lot more because he checks and goes to his right. He drops the ball early sometimes.
“Kevin De Bruyne’s pass against Birmingham for Bernardo Silva’s second goal was world class.
“He has everything. When he plays with a smile on his face and has the space to express himself, he’s a top player.
Dickov is not the only former City star to have sung Mahrez’s praises, with Michael Brown another seeing a notable progression from the 29-year-old during his time at Manchester.
He said after witnessing a 1-0 victory over Brighton Wednesday: “When he smiles and enjoys his football, it’s great.
“In such tight areas he’s great, but if there’s room for him he can cut left or right, he likes to come in. Once he’s in the box, you can’t come near him with that late chop he has.
“I wouldn’t want to play against him! He has such a capacity and sometimes he is unplayable.
Mahrez was substituted after City’s 67-minute narrow victory over Brighton, with Phil Foden grabbed the only goal of a game that saw Raheem Sterling miss another penalty for the Blues.