Leicester City will be without star playmaker Riyad Mahrez once again this weekend.
The Foxes head to play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with Mahrez the subject of a huge bid from Man City on transfer deadline day on Jan. 31.
That bid, thought to be worth in-excess of $90 million in cash and a player heading to Leicester, was flat out rejected by Leicester and Mahrez missed training since and hasn’t played in their last three games.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Leicester boss Claude Puel confirmed Mahrez won’t play on Saturday but didn’t confirm if Mahrez has been away from the training ground for the past week.
“There is no news. I hope Riyad can get his head right and to come back with us and to hard work. The best way is to come and to enjoy his football,” Puel said. “Riyad is a magnificent player and he loves football. He loves his relationship with his friends and team-mates. He needs to come back and to play, to touch the ball.”
“I don’t want to comment and give details of our relationship with Riyad,” Puel added. “It is important to all details remain inside the club and not in the public. I can understand all this speculation. I think it is important in this difficult time to keep all players, and club, united. Together, to look forward and continue the hard work on the pitch.”
Leicester are trying to deal with this situation behind closed doors amid reports that Mahrez is “depressed” and struggling to come to terms with not being able to join the Premier League leaders, despite handing in a transfer request and wanting to leave Leicester in each of the last four transfer windows.
Mahrez’s situation at Leicester is becoming increasingly tricky and this feels like he’s trying to force through a move by basically downing tools.