Self-exiled Mahrez back to Leicester training

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Riyad Mahrez ended his self-imposed exile from Leicester City on Friday with Sky Sports reporting the Algerian has returned to training ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester City.

Mahrez, 26, has not featured for in two matches or training, since the move he wanted to runaway Premier League leaders City fell through due to Leicester’s demands on January 31, transfer deadline day.

According to Sky, Mahrez has been hit with a £240,000 ($334,000) fine for failing to report to training over the past week.

And the Foxes have struggled without their star man, losing 2-1 at Everton before failing to beat struggling Swansea City 1-1 at home last weekend.

Leicester manager Claude Puel appeared to rule Mahrez out of Saturday’s match on Thursday, but opened the door for his return for the rest of the season.

“I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game. I hope he can come back and work hard with the team sooner rather than later, of course, we will see,” said the Frenchman.

“The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad and the club and the fans united and in a good way about this. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties.”

Despite a second transfer request from Mahrez in eight months, Leicester reportedly held out for a deal worth £80 million ($112 million, 91 million euros), with even City’s cash-rich Abu Dhabi owners unwilling to go beyond a reported £50 million plus an unnamed player they valued at £15 million.

Leicester were determined to secure such a huge profit on a player they bought for a reported £350,000 from French second-division side Le Havre in 2014 and who played a pivotal role in the club’s rise from the Championship to Premier League champions.

He was crowned players’ player of the year during Leicester’s remarkable title-winning campaign in 2015-16, scoring 17 Premier League goals, and then signed a four-year deal to help lead their Champions League charge.

Adding to Mahrez’s anger is that other heroes of Leicester’s title-winning triumph – N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater – have been allowed to leave the club and join Chelsea with far less resistance.

© AFP

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