Riyad Mahrez’s ‘frustration’ admission amid talk of surprise summer transfer to Arsenal

Riyad Mahrez has emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal ahead of a big summer for Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu.

Well, that’s according to the Daily Mail, who also claim that the Gunners are interested in fellow Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling as Pep Guardiola looks to freshen up his squad ahead of next season.

Of course, Arsenal manager Arteta knows both players well from his time at the Etihad Stadium.

In fact, Sterling has already delivered a glowing verdict on the Spaniard, praising his management style in comments that could become more relevant as the summer progresses.

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But what about Mahrez?

It’s not the first time the Algeria international has been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium, with interest from Arsenal’s side stretching all the way back to when Arsene Wenger was in charge.

Interestingly, Mahrez labelled the Gunners a ‘top team’ after revealing his frustration at seeing a move blocked in the summer of 2016 during his time at Leicester City.

“After the title, if I’d left for a top team, it wouldn’t have been the same story,” he told France Football in November 2019. “For me, it’s clear that I lost two years at the highest level.

“I lost two years! Because instead of arriving at City at 27, I could have been there at 24, 25.

“Leicester blocked me. They told me: ‘You’re not leaving, you’re not leaving’.

“My agent had spoken to [Arsene] Wenger who really wanted me. It was nearly all done with Arsenal in 2016. I was really frustrated.

“It wasn’t easy to go from being the best player in the Premier League to being a part of a team fighting against relegation.

“It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting for you around the corner.”

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Mahrez’s contract at the Etihad Stadium expires in 2023 and his estimated transfer value, as per the CIES Football Observatory is between €40-€50m (£34m-£42m).

With no European football on offer next season, funds at the Emirates Stadium are likely to be limited this summer, although the club plan to generate £60million from player sales.

Whether they would be able to tempt Mahrez into a switch remains to be seen as a season not in Europe could prove costly.

Having finished in eighth place, the Gunners are set for their first season without European football in a quarter of a century.

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