After becoming the first African to win the the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award on Sunday night, Shoot Football takes a closer look at the Leicester City superstar and his sensational season, so far.
Mahrez was born in Sarcelles, France, and possesses Algerian and Moroccan citizenships. In November 2014, the winger chose to represent Algeria at national level. He then made his debut for Algeria in May 2014 in a friendly match against Armenia and afterwards was included in the Algerian squad for the 2014 World Cup.
In October 2015, the forward scored his first international goal for Algeria in a 3-1 win against Malawi, also managing to get an assist. In December 2014, Mahrez was chosen to represent Algeria in the 2015 African Cup Of Nations, scoring once in the tournament.
The forward began his career with French club AAS Sarcelles as a youth player. He then went professional in 2009, moving to French fourth division side, Quimper. There he managed to secure a first-team spot, making 27 appearances in the 2009-2010 season and scoring once.
The winger then joined French second division side Le Havre, originally playing for their second team, Le Havre II. During this time, Mahrez showcased his talent, making 60 appearances and scoring 24 goals. From 2012 onwards, the Algerian featured regularly for the French side’s first-team, making 60 appearances and scoring six goals, enhancing his reputation as a future star.
On January 11, 2014; Mahrez signed for Leicester City on a three-and-a-half year deal, for a transfer fee of £400,000. Labelled as the ‘Algerian Di Maria’ by many fans, he made his debut on January 25, coming on as a substitute in the 79th minute. The forward then went on to make 19 appearances in the second-half of the season, scoring three goals and playing a crucial role in Leicester’s promotion to the Premier League.
In the following season, Mahrez established himself further as an important player in the Foce’s first-team, appearing 30 times in the league, scoring four goals and bagging three assists. After a successful season in the Premier League, he signed a new four-year contract in August 2015 and has since flourished at the King Power Stadium under manager Claudio Ranieri.
The 25-year-old, who has now racked up 24 international caps to his name, won the PFA’s Player of the Year award at the weekend having scored a sensational 18 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions, including ten assists for the Premier League leaders this season.
Mahrez even netted on the eve of receiving this major individual honour, opening the scoring during the Foxes’ 4-0 win over Swansea City on Sunday to pull Leicester eight points clear of second-placed Tottenham at the top of the English top-flight standings, with only three games remaining.
Despite being linked with a whole host of top European clubs this summer; including the likes of FC Barcelona, Foxes boss Ranieri is desperate to keep hold of the Algerian ace as the Midlands club look to achieve the unthinkable by lifting the 2015/16 Premier League title next month, before preparing for next term’s campaign in the UEFA Champions League having guaranteed themselves a spot in next season’s European-elite club competition.
Mahrez fought off Spurs striker Harry Kane, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, West Ham United’s star summer signing Dimitri Payet and fellow Leicester teammates Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante to win the PFA award, further promoting the African’s exceptional ability on the international stage.