Claude Puel praises Mahrez and admits he is “not afraid” of losing the Algerian in the January transfer window
Leicester City manager Claude Puel believes that Riyad Mahrez has grown up as both a player and a man since last summer.
Puel again had to respond to questions about the future of the talismanic Algerian after yet another fine display in City’s impressive 0-0 draw away to Chelsea at the weekend, with speculation continuing to grow that Mahrez could be set for a January move away from the King Power.
Mahrez famously announced last summer that he wanted to leave City and spent deadline day at an airport waiting for a move, but ended up having to remain a Leicester player and prove himself to the fans all over again.
After a slightly slow start to this season Mahrez has come into his own in recent months, drawing praise from his manager who says he has no fears that the winger will actively try to engineer a transfer this month. Puel said:
I have confidence in Riyad. We have spoken a lot with him about different things but often about football.
He likes football a lot and he asks me a lot different questions about my work and my former clubs.
It is amazing to train Riyad because he loves his football and he knows all the players and all the teams. He asked me about French football.
It is not just football, it is about life and different things. It is a pleasure. It is good for the balance of life.
At times in the beginning there was a lot of penetration. Now he can play good football with one or two touches with his team-mates, and after he can keep this good penetration to make the difference.
He has found the good balance between playing it simple and playing with penetration and dribble. That is because of his experience as a man.
Puel went on to say he doesn’t believe the constant transfer speculation will affect Mahrez’s attitude or form, insisting that the Algerian just needs to focus on performing consistently for Leicester and not worry about anything else:
When we have some player they play for the football and a good feeling, it is fantastic.
When this player is on the pitch they give their best. They don’t think about speculation and about bad things. They are enjoying their football and for a manager like me it is fantastic.
The good ambition for him is to continue this hard work and show his consistency in games, game after game.
This season he came back to a good level and has played some fantastic games.
He is clinical with his assists and he scores goals. It is important he continues with this work and he can show everyone what a player he is with his quality and his consistency, with and without ball.
He makes progress. It is a good thing of course that he continues the whole season with us.
It is not a question (understand his desire to leave) in our minds. All these noises are just speculation.
Of course we are in the transfer window and it is normal for the all the best players.
I am not afraid about this because there is a fantastic spirit and good atmosphere in the squad. I think we saw this afternoon.
Do you think Riyad Mahrez will still be a Leicester player once the January transfer window closes? Let us know in the comments below…