Riyad Mahrez, one of the inspirations behind Leicester City’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, has told the club he wants to leave, he said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“Out of the huge admiration and respect I hold for Leicester City Football Club I wanted to be totally honest and transparent with them and have therefore informed the club that I feel now is the time for me to move on,” Mahrez said in a statement sent to various media outlets.
Mahrez, 26, was one of the stars of Leicester’s 2015-16 title win and shone as they reached the Champions League quarter-finals this season, but with the club having finished 12th in the table, he now wants to move on.
A source close to Mahrez told AFP the Algeria winger would only leave Leicester for a “big club” and had not yet received any offers.
Mahrez, voted the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year last season, said the timing of his departure had been agreed with chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha last year.
“I had a good discussion with the chairman last summer and we agreed at that time that I would stay for another year in order to help the club as best as I could following the transition of winning the title and in the Champions League,” Mahrez said in his statement.
“However, I am fiercely ambitious and feel that now is the time to move on to a new experience.
“I’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with the chairman and everyone at the club and I hope I have been able to repay the faith shown to me by my performances and commitment on the pitch during my time here.”
Leicester signed Mahrez from French second-tier side Le Havre in January 2014 and he played an important role in their 2014-15 Championship promotion campaign.
The slippery left-footed winger produced a series of stunning displays last season, scoring 17 goals and forming a devastating attacking tandem with Jamie Vardy as Leicester pulled off a sensational 5,000-1 title win.
His form dipped this season as Leicester’s form slumped, which led to the sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri, but he did find the net four times in the Champions League.
“I’ve had the four best seasons of my career at Leicester and have loved every moment,” Mahrez added.
“I feel immense pride to have been a part of what we have achieved during my time at the club, culminating in becoming Premier League champions.
“The relationship I share with the club and our amazing fans is something I will treasure forever and I truly hope they will understand and respect my decision.”
To date, N’Golo Kante is the only member of Leicester’s title-winning team to have left the King Power Stadium, the France midfielder having moved to Chelsea last year.