Riyad Mahrez has admitted that Arsenal were interested in signing him in the summer but the Algeria forward did not want to force through a transfer to avoid “conflict” with Leicester City.
Last season’s PFA Player of the Year expressed his desire to leave the Premier League champions in July after turning down a new contract worth around £80,000 a week. However, Leicester’s owners were adamant Mahrez would not be allowed to depart the King Power Stadium and held meetings with his representatives, with the 25-year-old eventually agreeing a new four-year deal.
It is understood that contains a “gentleman’s agreement” that the Algerian will be allowed to leave the club next summer should the club receive a suitable offer, thought to be in the region of £40m. Reports in France in August claimed that Arsenal offered £35m for a player purchased from Le Havre in 2014 for just £375,000, although that was denied by both clubs.
Mahrez has now confirmed that there was interest in him from Arsène Wenger’s side but insisted he was happy to remain with Leicester.
“There was contact with Arsenal,” Mahrez told Canal Football Club. “But Leicester wanted to keep me and I was pretty expensive. I did not want to create a conflict when the offer came in.
“Personally, I think it is a good thing I stayed put. It’s now up to me to prove myself again.”
Mahrez was part of the Algeria side which drew 1-1 with Cameroon in their opening World Cup qualifier on Sunday. Leicester travel to Chelsea on Saturday with Mahrez looking to add to his solitary Premier League goal this season.