Meet the unlikely star in Leicester’s so-far surprising season
When Leicester are without multi-medal-winning Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso in their lineup, there’s a live chance for some of the side’s less heralded members to take some of the spotlight.
Jamie Vardy managed it while sharing the pitch with the 34-year-old against Manchester United, but against relegation strugglers Burnley, the honour fell to another of the Foxes’ unfamiliar faces.
Two seasons ago, Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez was uncapped at international level and plying his trade with Le Havre in the French second tier.
Now, he’s a Premier League regular with five caps, a World Cup appearance and the second goal in the Foxes’ 2-2 draw with Burnley to his name.
Born in Sarcelles in the northern suburbs of Paris, Mahrez holds French, Algerian and Moroccan citizenships and made his Le Havre debut in the 2011/12 season having previously played for lower-league outfit Quimper.
Establishing himself as a Les Ciel et Marine regular in the following campaign, Mahrez scored five times in 39 all-competition appearances for the club.
After 19 outings the next year, Leicester offered him a chance to seriously progress his career when they came calling in the January transfer window.
Three strikes in a further 19 games for the Foxes not only helped seal the King Power Stadium inhabitants promotion, but saw Mahrez receive a call up to the Desert Warriors’ World Cup squad.
According to stereotypes, a player stepping up to the Premier League from Ligue 2 by way of just half a season in the Championship should struggle to adapt, but like the Foxes on the whole, Mahrez has had no trouble.
As one of Leicester’s better players in the season’s opening exchanges, Mahrez capped a good start by being involved in both of their goals against Burnley.
If the Foxes are to survive the season though, they’ll need their unlikely star to continue his quick learning curve, starting with a 12/5-rated win over Newcastle next time out.
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