According to Riyad Mahrez, he decided to leave Manchester City because he thought there might not be another chance to sign with Al-Ahli, a Saudi Pro League team.
The Algerian winger was a part of the mass migration that occurred in the summer of 2023 when elite players in European football fled to the Middle East.Riyad Mahrez completed a £30 million ($37 million) transfer to join forces with Al-Ahli after relishing his Triple Crown with City.
After five years at the Etihad, the legendary Algerian player signed a £30 million contract to join Al-Ahli. With 236 games played, the 32-year-old scored 78 goals and provided 59 assists, making him a huge hit with the Cityzens.
Mahrez finished his career with Manchester City with a continental treble, one of his twelve major trophies. He asserts that he had two years remaining on his contract, so he could have stayed with the Premier League’s biggest teams (via The Daily Mail):
“I had two years left on my contract with Manchester City, I could have stayed.”
Mahrez about Al Ahli
Despite starting Mahrez on the bench in the Champions League final against Inter, Pep Guardiola wanted him to stay at the Etihad Stadium, and the 32-year-old forward has explained to L’Equipe why he said goodbye to England.
“It was really me who decided to leave. I felt that this opportunity (to join Al-Ahli) would not come again. Maybe it was time to leave because I had spent five years at City and won everything.”
Mahrez played a part in Manchester City’s incredible 2022–2023 campaign. In 47 games across all competitions, he recorded 13 assists and 15 goals.
Nevertheless, the former Leicester City winger was benched for the Cityzens’ 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League final.
Mahrez about Manchester City
He suggested that he has unfinished business in Europe’s elite club competition:
“To be honest, I still have a taste of unfinished business. In the Champions League, I did not play the semi-final or the final. In previous seasons, I always started in the Champions League while always being impactful for my team.”
Mahrez has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 14 games across all competitions to start his Al-Ahli career. He committed to the Saudi Pro League team for four years.