Is the circus over yet? Oh, it’s only mid-July? Damn. Transfer season is always a headache to write about, especially when you have Monchi at the helm. Rumors are pretty teases, they get you excited, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, and then disappear without a trace. This writer had vowed to not get swept away in all the nonsense; however, a name has arisen among the babble that actually makes sense. Riyad Mahrez—Leicester City’s lanky, left-footed winger— appears to be targeted as the replacement for dearly departed Mohamed Salah.
Now, make no mistake, Roma’s paltry €23m bid for Mahrez could be some Monchi magic smokescreen. Even Lord Commander
Mormont Pallotta has played coy, asserting, “I don’t know who [Mahrez] is.” Yet, I get the suspicion James is the type of guy who doesn’t know names all that well. Just this morning he referred to Cengiz Ünder as the “Turkish kid.” His name is difficult to say, but come on, you are the Chairman of Roma, you can’t show the common decency to learn and refer to the lad by his name? End rant. Back to Mahrez.
Among the many alleged targets, from Berardi to Xherdan Shaqiri, Mahrez reigns supreme. Rumored to be unsettled at Leicester, and likely looking for Champions League football, the Algerian would fit like a glove into Eusebio Di Francesco’s 4-3-3 system, slotting into the right-winged attack. So, he’s just like Salah, right? Wrong. Where Salah relies on bursts of speed to beat his opponent, Mahrez uses fancy footwork, pace, and give-and-go passing. Moreover, he is also a set-piece specialist. So, he’s like if Pjanic and Salah had a baby? Uh, kinda, I guess. Unfortunately, Riyad had a bit of a slump last season, but so did most of the Leicester players, suffering with the collective and monumental hangover from the historic title-winning season before. For the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at Mahrez’s breakout 15/16 season to Salah’s 16/17 campaign:
While no one should look at numbers alone, we see that each player shared similar stats. In any case, it can be argued that if Mahrez rediscovers his form he could do wonders for Roma. Yes, there is the counterclaim involving his lack of Serie A experience, but that argument is usually unfounded. Some players shine in Calcio; others don’t; there are too many variables involved to evaluate here. Yet, if Roma signs Mahrez, and signs him quickly, he could have adequate time to train under EDF and familiarize himself with his teammates.
Again, who knows if Mahrez is truly a Monchi target? Sources say that the Algerian has agreed personal terms with Roma, but we all know that it ain’t real until it’s official. Whether their is truth or not, Monchi and Co. should increase their bid if Leicester denies. Even at €30m, Mahrez would be worth it. Dare I say, €40m?
In the meantime, debate at will. Oh, and here is good way to spend ten minutes of your Saturday: