Leicester City: Is Rachid Ghezzal the next Riyad Mahrez?
With the arrival of Monaco winger Rachid Ghezzal at the King Power Stadium, Leicester City took their summer signing tally to five.
Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough
Leicester City recently parted with a reported £10 million transfer fee to prize Algeria international Rachid Ghezzal from Monaco on a four-year deal, following fellow countryman Riyad Mahrez’s big-money move to Manchester City.
Although Ghezzal appeared 33 times for Monaco last season, little is known about the former Lyon man and his general playing style.
Foxes fans won’t be too worried about a relatively unknown singing. Leicester previously plucked undiscovered gems Ngolo Kante and Mahrez from obscurity before both became instrumental in the famous 2015-26 Premier League title win.
But will Ghezzal follow in the same trajectory as his predecessors at the King Power Stadium?
What do we know?
The 26-year-old Decines-Charpieu-born winger has played under Leicester manager Claude Puel before: the pair were together at French club Lyon, where Ghezzal made league 87 appearances, scoring 11 goals.
Whilst an academy player, Ghezzal watched Puel lead Lyon’s first team to a Champions League semi-final in 2010.
And what did Puel have to say about his fifth summer singing? Speaking to BBC Sport, the former Southampton boss said:
“He is an exciting addition to our group who will bring creativity and competition.
“I know his qualities from my time at Lyon, where he was in the academy, and I look forward to seeing him test himself in the Premier League.”
Although Ghezzal was born in France and has turned out on four occasions for Les Bleus’ under-20 team, he made his senior debut for his ancestral Algeria in 2015 and was part of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations squad.
Despite reported interest Premier League interest, Ghezzal moved to Monaco on a free transfer at the beginning of the 2017–2018 season after his contract expired, appearing for Les Monégasques 26 times in Ligue 1 and netting two goals during his stint at the club.
Where will he fit in?
Puel has targeted wide creative players this transfer window, presumably looking to replace the void left by Riyad Mahrez.
Ghezzal offers a serious attacking option alongside, Demarai Gray, Fousseni Diabate, Marc Albrighton and new singing James Maddison.
Predominately a left-sided winger in his early days with Lyon’s youth ranks, Ghezzal was a has since displayed an ability to cut in from the right flank too.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, the youngster spoke openly about his playing style:
“Nearly all the top teams operate with at least one inverted winger, so the position makes sense to me.
“I had to learn the role as I played as a left winger throughout my entire time in the Lyon youth ranks. But I think the right wing suits my qualities better: I can cut inside on my stronger left foot, and it gives me good angles for shooting.”
All in all, Ghezzal’s playing style — cutting in from right-hand side — appears similar to that of departed Mahrez, meaning Puel likely sees his most recent singing as a like-for-like replacement.
However, Mahrez’ leaves pretty big shoes. It remains to be seen whether Ghezzal can fill them.
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