The fox’s attempts to flee his captors were, once again, ultimately in vain as Riyad Mahrez’s eleventh-hour transfer to Manchester City fell through. He’s perfectly within his rights to feel aggrieved.
It takes a perfect artist to orchestrate the perfect kidnapping. Right from under the shooters’ nose the cub escaped, without a scent or even a spec of peroxide bleach blonde hair. In a desperate attempt to find their prize Leicester have offered a reverse ransom for his recovery – a £200,000 fine. Somehow, they’ve still failed to seduce the wily fox from its covert.
The fearless tiger, turned feral critter, was last sighted somewhere adjacent to the M1, having ravaged the chickens of his previous lair. Detectives are now examining the road’s pothole purgatories for the AWOL star.
The only cry to be heard of Mahrez came from a ‘close friend’, who claimed that the player was depressed, upset and incapable of reintegrating with the squad at such a time. He’s sick of being confined to feasting on dumpster detritus.
He wants to be set free.
While his comrades, N’golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater, were granted honourable discharge to Chelsea, Mahrez has been held hostage and the scars of captivity are starting to take hold.
When he grudgingly returns, he will, albeit uncomfortably, reconvene with his teammates but the whispers of his friend clearly show how his loyalty barely clings by a claw.
Fans, pundits and reportedly even Leicester’s own players have expressed their grievance at Mahrez’s entitled behaviour.
After all, he’s under a handsome and lengthy contract. However, the club has certainly had to act more diligently when reassembling the shrapnel. Mahrez isn’t only the Club’s best player, he’s one of the league’s finest.
Leicester can’t afford for him to skulk on the sidelines for the second half of the season, not only for the club’s success but also so that he retains his value.
Similarly, the Club’s family harmonic needs to be maintained. The dressing room was already exposed as turbulent when Claudio Ranieri departed and now, Mahrez is the rebellious teenager making ill-advised threats at the door with his packed bags.
Is he just another example of football’s ungrateful overpaid divas? A player who was sourced from the unknown chalk-cliffs of Normandy and given the platform to turn grandee at Leicester?
Yes, Leicester did provide the foundation for his success but he’s long repaid them. Footballers may be overpaid, but it’s a short career. Fans are fickle to begrudge Mahrez a move to one the world’s elite.
Although it’s an unpopular opinion, in a market now dominated by player-power, he has every right to feel aggrieved.
He’s far from the everyday example of an ego-inflated footballer. He is an anomaly. An extremely gifted player who spearheaded the club to unheralded glory.
Leicester cannot maintain those unique feats of success and his deserved dreams of playing for one of Europe’s top-sides are now being withheld.
It’s not to say it was his single-handed stroke that led Leicester to the title but it would have undoubtedly been impossible without the season’s PFA Player of the Year.
Manchester City may not have met Leicester’s monstrous evaluation of Mahrez but it was a hugely increased offer on any of those which have been previously tabled for the player.
Yes, players prices are increasing. Yes, his value should rise accordingly. Yet, let’s not forget, Mahrez hasn’t replicated that same impeccable form which made him such a sought-after commodity.
On 34 points, Leicester’s safety in the Premier League this season is all but secured. The boardroom masters should have stirrup cupped to the unrivalled riches procured by Manchester City’s offer and readied the war-chest to rebuild before the next season.
There would be no need to engage in the berserks of deadline-day, no need to sell before buying, no need to rush into hasty purchases. Mahrez’s departure is still a case of when not if.
Instead of offloading, the club will now have to tip-toe through thorns to leave everyone pleased. They have been a resurgent force under the guidance of Claude Puel. Why not reward him with his own trove to improve the side?
Instead, the Mahrez saga will be made-up and manicured, before being inevitably revived in six months time.
The Algerian may now never get his dream move to one of the top Premier League sides and Leicester may never again claim such riches from the sale of a single player.
The heads and tails have all been left drooped. His form may fall, his contract is running and the story still only has one conclusion.
Leicester’s hero turned pest is still on the run but will come home soon. He has nowhere else to go. But in what condition will he be?