Foxes tie Mahrez till 2020

Riyad Mahrez scoring from the penalty spot in Leicester City's 2-1 defeat by Hull last weekend. The Algerian committed his future to the champions after signing a four-year contract.
Riyad Mahrez scoring from the penalty spot in Leicester City's 2-1 defeat by Hull last weekend. The Algerian committed his future to the champions after signing a four-year contract.PHOTO: REUTERS

Key member of title-winning side to stay at Leicester after accepting a pay rise

LONDON • Riyad Mahrez has given Leicester City a major boost by signing a four-year contract, putting paid to speculation that he could leave the Premier League champions this summer.

The reigning Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year has followed in the footsteps of club-mate Jamie Vardy by agreeing a long-term deal that ties him to the club until 2020 and includes a significant pay rise.

It has also emerged that there is no release clause in the Algerian playmaker's new contract, which will make him the club's second-highest paid player behind Vardy, who earns around £100,000 (S$ 176,420) a week.

"Leicester City Football Club are delighted to announce that Riyad Mahrez has signed a new contract, committing his future to the Foxes until June 2020," said a statement issued by the Midlands club on Wednesday.

The club and Mahrez's representatives have held discussions for a while, with manager Claudio Ranieri holding several conversations with the player, urging him to stay.

The 25-year-old was a revelation last season, scoring 17 goals in the league while adding 11 assists in Leicester's shock title success.

The Algerian's stock rose dramatically as a result and he was linked with Arsenal and Barcelona this summer, although neither club made a serious move for him.

Earlier this week, Mahrez admitted that only "two or three clubs in the world" could tempt him away from Leicester, suggesting that he had no desire to leave the Premier League champions otherwise.

With Leicester also able to offer him Champions League football - the draw for the group stage will be made next week - and the Midlands club willing to double his wages, everything was in place for the Algerian international to stay.

Having lost N'Golo Kante to Chelsea last month, Leicester were determined to hold on to Mahrez to keep together the core of their Premier League-winning side.

As well as Mahrez and Vardy, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Andy King have signed deals this summer. Danny Drinkwater is the one remaining key player whose long-term future has yet to be resolved.

Mahrez was signed from France's Ligue 2 side Le Havre in January 2014 during Nigel Pearson's reign as manager.

He started to blossom towards the end of the 2014-15 season, when Leicester won seven of their last nine matches to avoid relegation, before taking his game to another level last season.

The Algerian made a scoring start to this campaign, equalising from the penalty spot against Hull City last Saturday. But it was not enough to prevent Leicester from slipping to a surprise 2-1 defeat.

With Arsenal also losing on the opening weekend, the game at the King Power Stadium on Saturday carries added significance for both clubs.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'Foxes tie Mahrez till 2020'. Print Edition | Subscribe