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Leicester City

'It was difficult' - Puel opens up on Mahrez's move to Manchester City

01:56 SAST 2018/12/18
Riyad Mahrez Leicester City
The winger is set to return to the King Power Stadium for the first time since his move to the Premier League champions

Leicester City manager Claude Puel has admitted that Riyad Mahrez’s desperation to complete his move to Manchester City last season was a ‘difficult’ time for the Foxes.

The two sides are to face each other in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night, a match that will mark the first time the winger has come up against his former side since his departure.

City attempted to sign Mahrez last January, with the Algerian missing 10 days of training and two matches in protest of Leicester’s reluctance to let him go. He did, however, eventually get his move to the Etihad Stadium in the summer.

Regardless, Leicester boss Puel claims Mahrez deserves respect from the club’s supporters on Tuesday, but jested that he hopes to see him remain in the dugout.

"I hope he remains on the bench of course!" Puel said at the pre-match press conference.

“Riyad deserves respect because he gave his best for the club. I hope he can come back and keep a good feeling with all the people because he deserves it.

“He scored a lot of goals and he changed the game all the time and it was incredible. 

“He had an important part in the success of the Premier League title and we cannot forget all he gave for the club and his team-mates and I hope he can have a good reception.”

Puel elaborated on Mahrez’s attempts to leave Leicester by admitting that it was a tough time the club.

“I think with Riyad I tried to manage him and it was a difficult moment in the winter transfer window when he wanted to leave the club,” added Puel.

“Of course it was difficult to manage with the fans and with his team-mates also but it was important to manage him without losing his concentration.

“We managed his comeback with [to the starting XI] and he helped us until the end of the season when he came back after his absence.

“It was a difficult situation for the team, of course, but for his team-mates he gave his best when he came back.

Mahrez has slotted in seamlessly at Manchester City having already registered seven goals and six assists for Pep Guardiola’s side this season.

Puel claims that he’s happy to see him performing well and believes he left Leicester at the right time.

“He scored important goals and made the difference. He left the club in a positive situation and took a positive attitude with him.

“That was the most important thing and, of course, it was a pleasure to talk with him and share different feelings about football because it was a passion for him.

“It was the right time for him. When a player has other ambitions for other projects we cannot keep him because he would lose concentration, focus and motivation. That would not be a good thing for him or for us.”