Riyad Mahrez states Leicester’s reluctance to sell him to Arsenal back in 2016 means he has “lost two years” of his professional career, with the Algerian forced to wait on Manchester City to do a deal.
The highly-rated attacker had wanted to head for the departures at the King Power Stadium on the back of an unlikely title triumph.
Riyad’s efforts had earned him the PFA Player of the Year award and admiring glances from leading clubs across Europe.
Arsenal were among those to make a swoop, but Leicester refused to sanction the sale of a key man and made it clear to Riyad that he’d be going nowhere.
That stance was finally relaxed when the Citizens paid £60 million in the summer of 2018, but a couple of years competing at the very highest level had already passed an ambitious performer by.
Algeria international told France Football: “After the title, if I’d left for a top team, it wouldn’t have been the same story.
“For me, it’s clear that I lost two years at the highest level. I lost two years! Because instead of arriving at City at 27, I could have been there at 24, 25.
“Leicester blocked me. They told me: ‘You’re not leaving, you’re not leaving’.
“My agent had spoken to [Arsene] Wenger who really wanted me. It was nearly all done with Arsenal in 2016. I was really frustrated.”
Riyad got his step up the ladder when joining the Citizens, and is now a two-time PL champion, but has found regular starts hard to come by with the Foxes.
He has no complaints about that, with the 28-year-old content to be working with one of the best managers in the business in Pep Guardiola.