Image Source: @Mahrez22 via Twitter
For some football fans, transfer deadline day brings excitement and expectation, for others it is a frantic period of distraction that the beautiful game could well do without. The latest episode in football’s winter merry-go-round was no exception with deals being done right up until one o’clock in the morning on February 1, and the major sports channels attempting to whip up a frenzy.
But it’s not just the deals that get done that make the news. Sometimes the deals that don’t happen can have just as much impact on the fans, the club and the player involved. Take Riyad Mahrez for example. Last summer, the player thought he was on his way out of the door at the King Power Stadium having been given permission to leave Algerian national team duty on August 31 to formalise a transfer to a new club. The player had been the subject of three rejected bids from Roma but ultimately was unable to secure a move that suited him or Leicester City.
Having shown such keenness to leave the club it came as no surprise when the player once again became the centre of attention in the January transfer window with Manchester City the chief suitors. As the end of the month approached, the odds were slashed in the football betting transfer markets as Pep Guardiola’s club made their move. However, a £60m bid from City and a transfer request from the player were not enough to persuade the Foxes to do business and the deal ultimately collapsed with the Manchester club unwilling to match the £95m price tag.
Whether Leicester were just playing a game of bluff that backfired is unsure, but they are now left with a player who has hinted he will go on strike and a bank account that is £60m lighter than it might’ve been – a scenario that was predicted by many who felt they should just get the deal done. After all, City’s valuation was more nearly double that of Roma’s back in the summer.
Premier League transfer spending 2017-18, full season, adding summer 2017 to January 2018. Image Source: Nick Harris @sportingintel via Twitter
With the East Midlands club in a relatively safe position in the table and the player inevitably coming to the end of his time at the club, it does seem a little strange that the powers that be dug their heels so much. It is questionable whether they will be able to achieve such a price in the summer although the current marketplace is showing no signs of slowing down. They may also have considered the fact that if they do a deal early in the summer, they will have sufficient time to recruit a replacement.
Whatever their motives, the Foxes know they have a high-value asset who no longer sees his future at the club. In the meantime, Coach Claude Puel will now be faced with the task of integrating the player back into the squad for the remainder of the season.