The deal to take Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City to Al-Ahli is now complete with the Algerian winger moving to Saudi Arabia for a fee of £30m. Mahrez has been the subject of interest from Al-Ahli for some time and a deal was struck last week. He has now completed his medical at the club and signed a four-year deal which is said to be worth £865,000 per week.
Although on the face of it, Manchester City will be happy about recouping £30m for a 32-year-old who only played a bit-part role last season, he does leave something of a hole in the squad. Despite his low starting appearances figure last season, the Algerian has been a key cog in Guradiola's winning machine and has given City fans plenty of big moments to savior over the years.
Even last season, he still ended up making 47 appearances and scoring 15 goals for the Blues with Guardiola often relying on him to change matches from the bench. Without the winger, Guardiola will feel he is short in the creative department and will surely dip into the market to replace him. Here are some possible Mahrez replacements that could end up at the Etihad Stadium before the transfer window shuts in five weeks.
Three possible Riyad Mahrez replacements for Man City
As things stand, the most likely player to come in and fill the void left behind by Riyad Mahrez is Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise. At the age of 21, Olise has already established himself as one of the best players in the Crystal Palace squad and has been attracting plenty of attention in the transfer market. Both Manchester City and Chelsea have been linked with the Frenchman but there is a feeling that City are winning the race.
Last season, Olise scored seven goals and provided 12 assists for Crystal Palace and Roy Hodgson will be desperate to keep hold of him after Wilfried Zaha officially left the club last week. The problem that Hodgson and Palace have, however, is that there is a £35m release clause in his contract which means a deal could be done quite easily providing the player is up for the move.
In terms of playing style, Olise is very similar to Mahrez. He is left-footed, operates from the right wing, and is very direct which is something that the other Manchester City wingers perhaps lack. Given his young age, he is also more likely to accept a reduced role at first whereas a bigger name would perhaps cause disruption in the dressing room.
Man City really lost Mahrez and decided to try and sign the player most stylistically similar to him in world football… his clone… Michael Olise!
£35m is an absolute steal… Palace fans must be seriously concerned right now. pic.twitter.com/E2RvKJgNbR
— Dougie Critchley (@DougieCritchley) July 23, 2023
Another name that has been linked with Manchester City since rumours about Mahrez's future began to swirl is Raphinha. The Brazilian winger didn't enjoy the best of seasons at Barcelona last year after making a £55m move from Leeds United and could be tempted to move back to the Premier League, particularly if it is Manchester City who come calling.
Barcelona would likely want to recoup most of that money back if they do part ways with Raphinha this summer, however, Manchester City are reportedly only prepared to pay around £40m for the 26-year-old. Raphinha was impressive during his first stint in the Premier League and his direct game perhaps suits the league more than it does La Liga.
Another option for Pep Guardiola would be to use someone within his squad to replace Mahrez. While the likes of Cole Palmer and James McAtee could push for it, the most obvious solution would be to start playing Phil Foden more from the right-hand side.
Over the past couple of seasons, Guardiola has used Foden more from the left but with the form of Jack Grealish last season, he struggled to make much of an impact in the City eleven. In theory, his game could be more suited to the right as it would allow him to drive inwardly onto his stronger left foot which would cause plenty of problems for opposition defences.
The problem with moving Foden to the left is that it just means City are then short on the left wing if Grealish gets injured or needs a rest. However, perhaps Cole Palmer is ready for more first-team minutes next season while Sergio Gomez also impressed in that position for Spain under-21s at this summers European Championships.