Riyad Mahrez is Finally Thriving for Man City
It took a year for Mahrez to settle in Manchester, but he is a vital player for City now.
It took Riyad Mahrez some time to find his feet for Manchester City.
The mercurial winger had been a long-term target, but City only got their man last year.
A step up from Leicester City, who he inspired to the Premier League title in 2015-16, meant Mahrez was no longer the biggest fish in the pond.
He had to wait for his chance to shine, often being left on the bench, but now that has come Mahrez is a key player for City.
Three games, three goals
City's depth of talent has meant Mahrez has not always been an automatic selection.
Jostling for a spot in the team with Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane means there will always be someone disappointed. Sane's serious injury, though, has enabled Mahrez to step into the breach.
The Algerian scored in consecutive appearances against Shakhtar Donetsk, Watford and Everton at the end of September. Those goals all came in different competitions, with City again competing on multiple fronts after last season's domestic clean sweep of trophies.
Mahrez is among the nominees for the Manchester City Player of the Month award for September. Rodrigo and Kevin De Bruyne will challenge him, but Mahrez might win it.
Improved efficiency behind Mahrez resurgence
From nine appearances in 2019-20, Mahrez has contributed three goals and six assists.
Last term, he managed 12 goals and as many assists from 44 games, so he is on track to beat those numbers.
"He's clinical," City manager Pep Guardiola said recently of the Algeria international.
"Defensively his commitment is higher than last season and offensively, every time something happens close to the 18-yard box, you have this feeling that he is going to create something and it is going to happen. So that's good. Hopefully he can maintain that level."
It may have taken Mahrez a year to settle in Manchester, but he is a vital player for City now.
If they are to reel in Liverpool's lead in the Premier League, defend their two domestic cups and progress in Europe, they will need more Mahrez magic.