FT's 10 Best Moments of 2018: #6 Riyad Mahrez gets his move to Manchester
At FirstTouch, we have a saying that goes like, “a year is never over until we close it.” In the spirit of that ideal, we took our time to look back at the ten most defining moments of 2018, as far as African football is concerned. Could you guess what they are? Number 6 is ready for you.
Ever since Leicester City pulled off the miracle of winning the 2015/16 English Premier League with the most insignificant odds, Riyad Mahrez had always been linked with a move away from the King Power. The 27-year-old Algerian impressed potential suitors by his stellar performances on the right wing of Claudio Ranieri’s set up, scoring a couple of goals and setting up late bloomer, Jamie Vardy for the Premier League Golden Boot Award of that campaign. Riyad become mostly known for his famous Mahrez chop of cutting inside from the wing, chopping defenders and sagging the far side of the net.
Talks of how much more the Algerian could contribute given what he achieved with the diminutive Leicester City. Many neutrals, especially Africans wanted him to move and they grew increasingly impatient as the move never seemed to surface. Top European clubs such as Arsenal were one of the teams’ who for a long time had Mahrez on their wish list but with no success. It was the noisy neighbors of Manchester who eventually won the Algerian’s signature in the summer of 2018. Even after Pep Guardiola’s plans to get Riyad to City were derailed in January of the same year. The dream transfer became a reality and in Manchester City’s typical lavish spending style, with a record transfer fee for the club of £60 million also becoming the record transfer fee for an African player.
With City looking like they can repeat yesteryear’s record breaking season, Mahrez looks settled in Pep’s squad already making a huge impact in their journey to possible European dominance.