By 90Min
December 29, 2017

29 goals and 23 assists. That's the contribution made by Riyad Mahrez in Leicester City's Premier League campaigns since August 2015.

A truly phenomenal statistic for a midfielder plucked from the second tier of French football for a modest sum of £400,000. 

Now, Mahrez is one of the most coveted attacking midfielders in the Premier League, and the Foxes face an uphill battle to keep hold of their star player during this January transfer window.

Michael Regan/GettyImages

The Algerian's rise to the top has been nothing short of astonishing. His first 18 months at the club were steady, but not spectacular. He joined midway through Leicester's promotion season from the Championship in 2014, arriving in January and slowly integrated himself into the demands of English football.

His first full season in England saw the Foxes complete one of the greatest relegation escapes in Premier League history. Leicester claimed 22 points from the final nine games of the season to clamber to safety, with a Mahrez double earning a crucial home win over Southampton during that run.

Just a year later, a change in management and a dramatic change in fortunes has seen Mahrez's stock rise to the upper echelons of the game. Unbelievably, Leicester were crowned champions and alongside team-mate Jamie Vardy, Mahrez was the leader of the pack. An incredible 17 goals in that title winning season earned him the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, as well as many other accolades.

Perhaps surprisingly though, Mahrez has remained loyal to the Foxes since then. Many of Europe's leading teams were linked with the Algerian, but a move never materialised, A subsequent dip in form the following season and the sacking of Claudio Ranieri potentially contributed to him staying, but recently the 26-year old has shown glimpses of the genius we first saw two seasons ago. 

Claude Puel's appointment appears to have reignited the entertaining brand of football seen at the King Power Stadium during that title winning season, and the feel good factor is back. Mahrez has his swagger back, and is influencing games again from the right of midfield. Six goals and eight assists so far this term are a sign that he is back on top of his game. 

With confidence and good form though, come rumours. And there are plenty of them around that Mahrez is interesting potential suitors. Arsenal, Tottenham and Roma are just a number of sides reportedly keen on finally tempting Mahrez away, with the January transfer window just around the corner. 

Michael Regan/GettyImages

One thing is for sure though; Leicester must do all they can to keep hold of Mahrez. Yes, it's unlikely they will ever replicate their title winning success. For that reason alone, keeping hold of him will prove difficult. 

It's clear though that Mahrez is fundamental to way Claude Puel wants Leicester to play their football, and they must promise to build a team around him. Investment in high profile signings is paramount and they must show some desire to establish themselves as a Top 8 side, keen to consistently challenge for European qualification.

Without that, it would seem Mahrez will be destined to leave. His wand of a left foot has shown a touch of creative genius and many moments of individual brilliance have been on display this season. Pace, goals and the ability to drive on his teammates towards better things are characteristics that Leicester will find difficult to replace should he go.

Ultimately, the club may not have a say on matters. Mahrez is good enough to showcase his talents on the European stage, as his performances in the Champions League showed last season. He may well opt to leave if a desirable offer comes in, and should that be the case, Foxes fans will be devastated for many months to come.

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