From a no-namer in France to being chosen as Footballer of the Year by his peers, Mahrez now has the likes of Barcelona and PSG monitoring him Riyad Mahrez thought Leicester City was a rugby club. You wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Leicester City fans thought Mahrez was a kind of perfume. If they had such beautiful thoughts of the French-born Algerian, they can be glad he ultimately did not disappoint. The 25 year old started out professionally with Quimper in the lower reaches of French football, before Le Havre in the French Ligue 2 snapped him up. It was while playing here that Leicester City scout Steve Walsh called, his intention to monitor Mahrez’s teammate Ryan Mendes. Impressed instead by Mahrez, Walsh took back the Algerian winger with him and Leicester City made what might prove to be their smartest buy in a longtime, signing him in January 2014. The story goes that back in France, Mahrez had been told he was too slow, too small and too frail to make it. Even friends and family were initially skeptical of a move to English football due to its physical nature, believing that his style of play would be more suited to Spain. Mahrez did little to prove them wrong initially. He might have made his debut within a fortnight of joining Leicester, but he didn’t quite set the world alight despite being a part of the team that secured promotion comfortably to the English Premiership as Championship winners. In fact, as recently as a year ago, the Algerian was not guaranteed a place in Leicester’s starting 11. There had always been glimpses of his delightful left footed touches, but it didn’t look like he would turn promise into product. Then, this season, it happened. From playing 30 league games and scoring 4 league goals in the previous campaign, Mahrez had already matched that tally of goals before a dozen games played, and by February he was already in double figures for goals and assists. Mahrez the playmaker had been born. Last Sunday, the Algerian scored his team’s opening goal to all but ensure Leicester would be this year’s champions. A helicopter was waiting after the game to fly him to the PFA Footballer of the Year Awards, where he became the first African to claim the top accolade. There’s no ruling out Mahrez competing for even bigger prizes in his career in the near future, whether at individual or team level.