Following an outpouring of requests, Football News will attempt to clarify the reporting in France from last week that suggested that Riyad Mahrez was the subject of offers from Arsenal, and could have even been prepared to force a move away from Leicester.
First of all, it is important to note that there is a distinct difference between our own reporting of the scenario (see our final written report on the Mahrez situation here) and when we act as the middleman between the French press and the English language (our article on L’Équipe’s Arsenal offer report here).
Second of all, the fact that Riyad Mahrez signed a new contract with Leicester does not call into question reports suggesting Arsenal were and are interested in the Algerian international.
Riyad Mahrez appears to have ultimately opted to sign a contract extension with a considerable pay-rise when it became clear that the Foxes would block all attempts by other clubs to prise him away. Chelsea were also involved for a time.
Were the French press used by parties interested in putting pressure on Leicester to offer Mahrez the best possible contract?
That is a question that will never be answered. But if so, then it was expertly manoeuvred because RMC‘s Mohamed Bouhafsi and L’Équipe’s Damien Degorre are not just two of the most reliable journalists in France, but in Europe.
Both claimed Arsenal made a bid, both have some of the most spotless records in transfer reporting history.
We appreciate that with less than 2 weeks of the transfer window remaining, things begin to get more desperate from all corners of the football world. Remember that two things can be true at once, a contract extension as a result of intense interest from a big club like Arsenal and perhaps even a bid is a very plausible theory.
After all, France Football journalist Nabil Djellit, who interviewed Riyad Mahrez last week and who has had a close relationship with the Algerian international since his days at Le Havre, reaffirmed last night that Arsenal did pursue the player.
The transfer window is a delicate, fiddly matter but we will continue to do our best to sort the good from the bad and the ugly.