Riyad Mahrez Admits to Struggling With Initial Step Up at Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez
Sheffield United v Manchester City – Premier League | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez has admitted that the pressures of arriving for a club-record fee, and extra competition for places, contributed to his initial struggles at Manchester City after signing in 2018.

Mahrez joined City in a £60m deal off the back of an impressive stint at Leicester, where he was instrumental in their 2015/16 Premier League win, but struggled to make the step up in his debut season in Manchester.

Riyad MahrezRiyad Mahrez
Leicester City v Manchester City – Carabao Cup: Quarter Final | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Algerian winger endured a slow start to the 2018/19 season and struggled with the sudden competition for places and the increased ambitions of his new club, telling Sky Sports that he didn’t know how to deal with the different style of play: “When I arrived at City, I noticed how everyone sits back so you have to think differently.

“You have to deal differently with your opponent, and in my case the left-back because he’s always in front of me. They also always have help around him, with a midfielder or the winger, so you have to change your play and your movement.

Mahrez also revealed that new manager Pep Guardiola had confidence in him, but faith began to drop as he struggled to settle, admitting: “[He] didn’t make the difference as quick as they thought [he] would.”

Mahrez with manager GuardiolaMahrez with manager Guardiola
Mahrez with manager Guardiola | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Despite arriving with a record fee and masses of hype from City fans, Mahrez found himself warming the bench for a large chunk of his debut season. It wasn’t until towards the end of the campaign where he began to find his feet, as City beat Liverpool to the Premier League title.

Despite City trailing leaders Liverpool by 25 points this season, Mahrez has already bettered himself on a personal front, grabbing seven goals and ten assists in the league so far.

While the title race is all but decided, the 29-year-old will hope to use City’s remaining ten games to add to his impressive tally this season, bringing momentum into the 20/21 campaign.