The Man City winger Riyad Mahrez gave the assist to Raheem Sterling for their early goal against Arsenal at the Emirates last weekend, but it could have been so different if Arsene Wenger had persuaded Leicester to sell the Algerian international back in the summer of 2016.
Mahrez had just won the Premier League title, and was named the PFA Player-of-the-Year and the Algerian player of the year, and would have improved the Gunners immensely if we could have secured his services.
We all knew about Arsenal being linked with Mahrez and his team-mate Jamie Vardy, but here we have proof from the horses mouth how close he came to being a Gunner. In an interview with FranceFootball back in 2019, Mahrez said: “After [winning] 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.
“It wasn’t easy to go from being the best player in the Premier League to being a part of a team fighting against relegation.
“It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting for you around the corner.”
Mahrez finally ended up with a dream move to Man City, where he has won many trophies, but you never know, if Arsenal had got both him and Vardy that summer, maybe we could have gone on to win the title.