When Riyad Mahrez joined Leicester City from Havre to play in the Championship in 2014 nobody really batted an eyelid. This didn’t seem like a major player had moved clubs, or that Leicester had pulled off an unbelievable transfer coup. Even last season as he helped the club survive the drop he was always decent but never outstanding.
Yet this season the 24 year old Algerian winger has developed into one of the finest players around and according to whoscored.com is the best player in the Premier League statistically speaking. Against Chelsea last night he was in brilliant form, punishing the fallen Champions as he recorded a goal and an assist, taking his total goal tally to 11, making him the third top goal scorer in the league, and putting him second in the assist chart behind Mesut Ozil with seven.
That is brilliant for a Leicester player after 38 games, let alone after just 16. No player has completed more dribbles per game than Mahrez, who has averaged 3.6 each time out, this was a position held by Eden Hazard all of last season, yet he is now behind with three dribbles per game. Mahrez is setting the pace.
Anyone who has watched Leicester play this season will know that despite Vardy getting many of the plaudits, Mahrez is the man that pulls the strings. Against Manchester United his through ball to set up Vardy was simply world class. It was a perfectly weighted ball in behind the Man United back four that set Vardy up for a comfortable finish. Magnificent.
Is he the best in the league? On current form yes. Leicester are top of the table and they would not be were it not for the brilliance of this player. His form has propelled them up the table and his relationship with Vardy has been central to their form. He’ll have to maintain this throughout the season but it’ll be unthinkable if he is not considered for the player of the year award, even if Leicester fall off of the top.