Manchester City not ruling out late move for Riyad Mahrez
Leicester playmaker has emerged as a potential target for the Premier League leaders.
Manchester City have not ruled out making a deadline-day bid for Leicester playmaker Riyad Mahrez.
Press Association Sport understands the Algeria international has emerged as a potential late target for the Premier League leaders after the blow of losing Leroy Sane to injury.
The 26-year-old would give City manager Pep Guardiola another attacking option as he chases glory in four competitions but the club have not yet made an offer.
Should they act on their interest, they would likely meet strong resistance from Leicester.
Mahrez did submit a transfer request last summer – which has not been rescinded despite the player’s recent good form – but the club stood firm and rejected approaches from Roma.
Mahrez is contracted until 2020 and the Foxes have no intention of selling their prized asset. It is thought it would take a bid in excess of the £75million Liverpool recently paid for Virgil van Dijk – a defender – for them to even consider it.
That would force City to pay more than the £60million they were prepared to spend to bring Alexis Sanchez to the Etihad Stadium from Arsenal last August. Sanchez subsequently joined Manchester United earlier this month after City baulked at the rising costs of a potential deal.
It would also represent another club-record fee just a day after they completed the £57million signing of defender Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao.
Guardiola was asked about the prospect of signing Mahrez, who was linked with Liverpool earlier this month, at a press conference to preview Wednesday’s Premier League clash with West Brom but was non-committal.
He said: “I have interest in a lot of players, good players. There are many, the window is open until (January 31).
“We spoke many times with the club to see what is the best with the players we have. Right now we have just three strikers, with Raheem (Sterling), for the next month or month and a half.
“Gabriel (Jesus) is coming back maybe in the next five or six weeks. We don’t have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.”
When asked further if that could mean an approach for Mahrez, Guardiola said: “It’s not the place to talk about it. It’s so difficult. It happened with (Aymeric) Laporte because it was a buy-out clause. When you have to negotiate it’s always so complicated.”
Asked generally about deadline-day signings, he said: “I don’t know. I don’t think so but in football everything can happen. I am 95-99 per cent that nothing is going to happen.”
City have also been linked with Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.
Striker Jesus was expected to be out until at least mid-February with a knee injury. Sane joined the casualty list when he sustained ankle ligament damage in last weekend’s FA Cup victory at Cardiff.
Meanwhile, there could also be some outgoing business on Wednesday with centre-back Eliaquim Mangala now surplus to requirements following the arrival of Laporte. Newcastle, West Ham and Valencia – where the Frenchman had a loan spell last season – are thought to have expressed interest.