LONDON – Algerian international Riyad Mahrez secured his move to Manchester City on Tuesday, with the Premier League champions paying a reported club-record £60 million ($79.6 million) for the winger.
It comes seven months after City refused to pay Leicester's asking price of £80 million, having offered £50 million plus young winger Patrick Roberts, who was valued at £15 million.
This time though Leicester said they had sold him in a club-record deal.
The 27-year-old - a pivotal figure when Leicester stormed to a shock Premier League title in 2016 - signed a five-year contract.
“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola,” Mahrez told the Manchester City website. “Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me, and City's performances last season were outstanding.”
Mahrez, who was so upset at not gaining his move to City at the beginning of the year he sat out two matches, said his new club were revolutionising the game in England.
“They're redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Mahrez. “I think we can be successful over the coming years and I believe my own game can develop under Pep's management.”
City's director of football Txiki Begiristain said Mahrez's attacking qualities would add even more of a cutting edge to a side which already has an abundance of talent such as Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero.
“Riyad is a hugely talented player. He beats defenders and creates space,” said Begiristain. “Over the past few years, he has established himself as one of the Premier League's most exciting players.
“We're sure he will bring additional attacking quality to our squad.”
'His moments of magic'
Leicester paid a fulsome tribute to the departing star.
“In the four-and-a-half years since Riyad signed for the Foxes, he has played his way into the hearts of all Leicester City supporters,” read a club statement. “His moments of magic will live long in the memory as the club and its fans continue to build a long-term legacy for the success delivered by the teams to which Riyad so memorably contributed.”
Leicester - who have seen other key members of that title-winning side depart since such as N'Golo Kante to Chelsea - can afford to be generous in their words as they have turned a massive profit on Mahrez, who signed from French side Le Havre for just £450,000 in 2014.
Mahrez - who made 179 appearances for Leicester, scoring 48 times - went on international duty for his country in June and the writing was on the wall when Leicester allowed him extra time off.
The Foxes also are better prepared for him to leave this time as they bought highly-rated James Maddison from second-tier Norwich City for £2 million earlier in the close season.
Mahrez, along with striker Jamie Vardy and midfielder Kante, became unlikely household names in 2016 as Italian manager Claudio Ranieri engineered one of the greatest sporting surprises of all time.
Mahrez scored 17 goals in that campaign and, having signed a four-year contract, played a major role in the club reaching the Champions League quarter finals in 2016/17 as he contributed four goals.
Serie A side Roma subsequently came after him last summer but were left frustrated as several offers, with the highest reportedly £32 million, fell well short of Leicester's expectations.
Manchester City have also been linked with Napoli midfielder Jorginho, with the Italy international reportedly left out of their pre-season training camp squad.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)