• Analysis

Why is Riyad Mahrez struggling at Manchester City?

Manchester City v Burnley - FA Cup Fourth Round
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It hasn’t worked out for Mahrez at City so far

When Riyad Mahrez joined Manchester City last summer he will have known he was facing a struggle to get into the side from the start.

The lure of playing for Pep Guardiola and becoming a part of arguably the best team in Europe proved too strong, though. In hindsight, he will have wished he hadn’t have made the move to Manchester. The Etihad has not proven to be a good place for him.

The Algerian was a proven star at Leicester, why has he not achieved greater heights in a superior team? The answer is in that sentence. Mahrez simply hasn’t had a chance to impress. The form of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane is the reason why.

Sterling has been nothing short of sensational this season. No player has improved under Guardiola like the Englishman. There are those who believe he is quickly becoming a world-class player. The statistics back up such a claim. His tally of 14 goals and 15 assists in 33 games in all competitions has made him a key player. Not only that, it has made him a guaranteed starter for Guardiola’s side.

Then there is Sane. After being left out of Germany’s World Cup squad the youngster has seemingly been on a mission to prove a point to Joachim Loew.

He can consider that point made. His tally of 11 goals and 13 assists in 31 games in all competitions puts him in the same bracket as Sterling.

When fit, both players have to start. The competition beyond them is also fierce. Bernardo Silva is another competitor for a starting role and is finally flourishing under Guardiola’s tutorship.

Mahrez simply doesn’t stand a chance of replacing players of this calibre. They are better than he is and have proven it repeatedly this season.

Mahrez himself must take some of the blame. When the Algerian has been presented with opportunities he has not taken them. His tally nine goals and ten assists in 34 games is not bad but it is nowhere near the level of Sane or Sterling either.

In a similar vein, City are just not as good when he is in the team. They are forced to change to accommodate him it often does not work. They lose the incisiveness and attacking potency that makes them such a force to be reckoned with.

Until Mahrez can take his game up another level as Sterling and Sane have, he is unlikely to be a regular starter.

With less than 15 games left in the Premier League and only a handful in the Champions League, he faces a tough end to the season. Guardiola is unlikely to be willing to rotate at this crucial stage of the season.

Mahrez can have little complaint, though. His performances so far have not earned him the right to be a starter for Manchester City.