Riyad Mahrez was at the centre of a heated debate between Ed Dove and Malek Shafei on this week’s African Football HQ this week, with the pair disagreeing on whether the Manchester City stars deserves to be considered as world class or not.
Shafei was purring after the North African’s showing against Burnley last weekend, and indeed, it was a faultless display.
City have struggled to eviscerate teams with quite the same regularity as they have done in the past, and heading into the Clarets game, they were reeling after a defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and the narrow victory over Olympiakos.
However, against Burnley, even without injured Sergio Aguero and departed David Silva, City were at their scintillating best.
Admittedly, Burnley are struggling this term, but Mahrez was unplayable—scoring a hat-trick—while Kevin DeBruyne, with two assists was also exceptional.
Ferran Torres and substitute Phil Foden played strong supporting roles in a confident display, but Mahrez—playing on the right—was simply outstanding.
For Shafei, it’s this kind of performance that proves Mahrez is world class; he created six goalscoring opportunities, hit the target with three of his five attempted shots, and proved a constant menace for the Burnley backline.
However, for Dove, one sensational display is not enough for the 29-year-old to be declared ‘world class’.
Coming into this performance against Burnley, he had scored just once and contributed one assist in his previous 11 appearances across the Premier League, the Champions League and the League Cup.
Indeed, City fans have grown increasingly frustrated with Mahrez’s individuality and certainly, the North African has struggled to influence some of City’s biggest matches over the last year.
The FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal was one such example, while the former Leicester City man subsequently lost his place in Pep Guardiola’s plans for the Champions League showdown with Olympique Lyonnais.
If Mahrez can obliterate sides as he did against Burnley on a regular basis, Dove he believes he deserves to be considered world class, but until then, the frustrations will remain.