Leicester’s refusal to let Riyad Mahrez leave for Manchester City was “churlish”, says Robbie Savage, with the winger worth “100 times” what they paid.
Their faith was handsomely rewarded in 2015-16 when Mahrez proved to be a talismanic presence in a remarkable Premier League title triumph – with his efforts recognised with the PFA Player of the Year award.
On the back of that success, the 26-year-old has regularly pushed for a move elsewhere – with two transfer requests tabled amid links to Arsenal and City – but Leicester have stubbornly blocked his path.
Former Foxes star Savage has blasted the club’s behaviour in stunting the ambition of a prized asset, telling The Mirror: “Riyad Mahrez will be in turmoil after being denied his dream move to Manchester City – and I don’t blame him.
“No disrespect to Leicester, who are perfectly entitled to hold Mahrez to his contract, but he has outgrown them.
“Are Leicester ever going to win the title again? No – and they won’t win a trophy of any kind if they keep picking weakened teams in the cup competitions.
“Are they ever going to offer him Champions League football again? Probably not.
“Do they have much to gain from keeping a disaffected player at the club? Not in my opinion.
“He’s seen other star players being allowed to fly the nest for good money – so why are Leicester demanding a king’s ransom for Mahrez?
“A move to City would almost guarantee him winning more trophies, possibly including the Champions League, and a chance to play for Pep Guardiola, arguably the best coach on the planet.
“After everything he has done for Leicester – a £460,000 snip who is now worth more than 100 times as much – surely there comes a point where it is churlish to stand in the way of his ambition.
“What sort of mentality is he going to be in for the rest of the season? Leicester are not going to finish in the top four and they are not going to go down, so I don’t understand why they were not prepared to let him go for £60m, which is what City were believed to be offering.
“Is £59.5m not a big enough profit to make on a player who was a huge part in delivering that title miracle in 2016?
“In my opinion, Mahrez is worth £75m — but if he wants to go, he's only worth as much as Leicester can get for him.”
Mahrez does not appear to be in the right frame of mind to aid the Leicester cause on the back of another frustrating window, with four days of training having been sat out amid the uncertainty surrounding his future.