Monday 24 July 2017

Exclusive - Arsenal ready to step up their bid to sign Leicester's Riyad Mahrez

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he may bid for Leicester's Riyad Mahrez
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he may bid for Leicester's Riyad Mahrez
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is set to make Leicester play maker his next big transfer target after successfully sealing a deal to sign Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, Independent.ie understands.

Arsenal confirmed Lacazette's arrival on a club record deal on Wednesday, with the France striker posing for photographs at the club's London Colney training base after sealing his move.

Wenger has ended a long pursuit by finally signing Lacazette three years after he first made a move for him and now he is keen to pursue another of his long-standing targets in Mahrez.

Arsenal made an unsuccessful approach to sign Mahrez last summer, but the Algerian stayed at Leicester after he played a key role in their improbable 2015/16 Premier League title success.

Now Mahrez has made it clear that he is keen to move on this summer, with Arsenal reported to be his preferred destination and Wenger confirming he is a big admirer of the 2016 PFA Player of the Year.

"Have we made a bid for him? No. Not yet. Not yet means it could happen, it could not happen," said Wenger last month.

"I think he had a huge impact at Leicester when they won the championship, like everybody else.

"It's been a different season this year but it doesn't take anything away from his qualities. I like Mahrez."

Mahrez made it clear that he wants to leave Leicester this summer with this forthright statement released in May:

"Out of the huge admiration and respect I hold for Leicester I wanted to be totally honest and transparent. I have informed the club that I feel now is the time for me to move on," he wrote.

"I had a good discussion with the chairman last summer and we agreed at that time that I would stay for another year in order to help the club as best as I could following the transition of winning the title and in the Champions League.

"I've had the four best seasons of my career at Leicester and have loved every moment. I feel immense pride to have been a part of what we have achieved during my time at the club, culminating in becoming Premier League champions.

"The relationship I share with the club and our amazing fans are something I will treasure forever and I truly hope they will understand and respect my decision."

A fee in excess of €40m will be required to secure Mahrez's signature, but Wenger may well view that as a sound investment in a summer likely to see the big money departure of Chile forward Alexis Sanchez.

Mahrez may be viewed as a credible and attainable replacement for Sanchez, with Arsenal determined to add to the signing of Lacazette as Wenger looks to revamp his squad after last season's fifth place finish in the Premier League.

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