Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez claims he almost made a move to Arsenal in 2016, only for Leicester City to block it at the eleventh hour.
The Algerian winger had just won the Premier League title against all odds with the Foxes, and naturally there was a lot of interest in the club’s players.
N’Golo Kante left for Chelsea, and Jamie Vardy was linked with a move to the Gunners, but turned them down to continue at the King Power Stadium.
Mahrez, it would seem, might have gone to the Emirates, but it was Leicester who stepped in to pull the plug.
Speaking to France Football, the 28-year-old said: “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.”
Despite trying to engineer an exit on multiple occasions, Mahrez would remain at Leicester until the summer of 2018, when he finally secured a £60 million move to the Etihad Stadium (BBC Sport).
TBR’s view – Another missed opportunity for Arsenal
Mahrez would have been a quality addition for the Gunners, who went ahead and signed Lucas Perez that summer instead.
The star had just won the PFA Player of the Year award for his amazing contributions for Leicester, and was certainly good enough to have been starting for the north Londoners.
Perhaps, ultimately, there was little they could do since Leicester clearly didn’t want to sell, but that will bring no comfort to Arsenal fans now, with Mahrez having been one of City’s best players in 2019/20.