Riyad Mahrez is close to completing his much-anticipated exit from Leicester City after Chelsea had a £45m bid accepted for the former PFA Players’ Player of the Year. The 26-year-old had reportedly been in talks with Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, but will instead move to the Premier League champions on deadline day.
According to beIN SPORTS, Mahrez is expected to move to Stamford Bridge after months of speculation over his future. Algeria have released Mahrez to allow him to complete his exit from the Foxes, and that is likely to end with him moving to the Blues.
After suffering a tough campaign with Leicester during which he netted just six goals in the top flight, Mahrez declared his intent to leave the club citing his desire to play regularly in the Champions League. An offer from Roma was rejected earlier this summer but no further offers have been received. Leicester have refused to deviate from their £50m valuation; a price tag which Mahrez himself lamented, but the club appears to have scaled back their expectations
It appears that Craig Shakespeare’s side looks set to budge with Mahrez now destined to move to Chelsea who are finally about to land a player who has been coveted by their rivals. Manchester United were linked with a late move for the ex-Le Havre man but Antonio Conte looks set to land the winger.
Should the deal go through it will come as some relief to Conte, who has lost out on key targets such as Romelu Lukaku and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; while Fernando Llorente is now expected to join Tottenham from Swansea City despite being set to sign for Chelsea.
Nemanja Matic has meanwhile moved to United, with Conte claiming that the Serbian was sold without his permission. The likes of John Terry and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have also departed in a largely unconvincing summer for the defending champions.
Mahrez could yet be joined by further arrivals with Torino’s Davide Zappacosta braced to move to Chelsea for £23m. The 25-year-old has a strong relationship with Conte having been given his first senior international call-up by the Italian and was included in the provisional squad for the 2016 European Championships.
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley could accompany the duo in moving to Chelsea but the club are running out of time to complete a deal. The Everton midfielder has been told he can leave Goodison Park after turning down a new contract but his £35m valuation means any deal will come down to the final hours of the transfer window, according to The Guardian.
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Leicester City attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who may or may not have spent the night at a London hotel after gaining permission from the Algeria national team yesterday to leave their training camp in order to sort out his future, could yet become a Chelsea player before the transfer window closes in a little over five hours.
At least that’s what beIN Sports are peddling and they seem rather confident, claiming that Mahrez “will be” a Chelsea player by tonight after the Blues submitted a £45m bid. If true, Chelsea could end the day with three of the five key pieces from Leicester City’s title-winning side from two years on the books at Stamford Bridge (Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel the only two missing.
Earlier today, Leicester City claimed that they had received no bids for Mahrez, but if beIN’s report is true then Chelsea have remedied that situation, and with emphasis.
Mahrez was the Premier League’s Player of the Season in 2015-16 and despite a bit of a down year last season, remains a highly talented player. At 26 years of age, he’s just about in his prime and in this market, £45m would be a decent enough price.
Attacking midfield isn’t the position of greatest need at the club and Mahrez would probably take minutes away from Charly Musonda Jr, though given Pedro’s versatility (backup left wing-back?), there could still be plenty of minutes to go around.
In any case, we’ll find out soon enough just how close to the truth beIN were with this report.