Riyad Mahrez replacements: Top three options for Manchester City to replace the outgoing Algerian

Vatsal Gupta
By Vatsal Gupta
5 Min Read

Another one gets his head turned. Saudi money is raining down on players and it looks like even the state-owned clubs in Europe are not free from the effect. Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez is set to depart for Al-Ahli, where he will join forces with Edouard Mendy and Roberto Firmino. Man City will undoubtedly miss him and he was a great option for the club who decided numerous games with his trickery and invention.

The focus now turns to Riyad Mahrez’s replacements.

Here are the top three Riyad Mahrez replacement options that Manchester City should go for:


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As soon as the news of Mahrez’s transfer to Al Ahli broke, Raphinha rumours started heating up. The Barcelona winger has been on interest to Manchester City since his days at Leeds and now, with a spot available on the right wing, it may finally become a reality.

In terms of player profile, Raphinha is slightly different to Mahrez, despite both being left-footed right-wingers.

While Mahrez is more of a silky dribbler who likes to beat his man and pick out a pass, Raphinha likes to use his pace to cut inside and unleash shots on goal.

His dribbling is comparable to Mahrez, although slightly below that level, but he more than makes up for it with his explosive game.

Pep Guardiola uses Jack Grealish for ball retention in his team so he can arguably use a player of Raphinha’s profile more than Mahrez, who is more stylistically similar to Grealish.

The player might even be available for a sensible price, as Barcelona remain embroiled in their ever-running financial issues. They need to sell players to relieve some pressure off their accounting books and Raphinha is a positive asset.

The Brazilian is the favourite to arrive at City as Riyad Mahrez’s replacement in a move that will arguably upgrade their attack.

Dani Olmo

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Raphinha is a Barcelona player, Olmo was created in Barcelona’s academy. It makes sense too, since the fitting-in period at Manchester City will be shorter for players who are already comfortable in a system similar to Guardiola’s.

Dani Olmo cannot be a direct replacement for Mahrez. His best position is as a No 10 and he is also right-footed. However, with some structural changes in the team, like putting Phil Foden on the right to replicate the skillset of Mahrez, Olmo’s signing suddenly makes sense.

Olmo is stylistically similar to Bernardo Silva, so if the Portuguese leaves, it will kill two birds with one stone. He likes to play between the lines and create chances by being the lockpicker, instead of smashing the door down which is something Raphinha would do.

The Spaniard is the quintessential Guardiola midfielder and his signing would take City’s game in possession up another geat, further reducing the “chaos” that Pep so hates.

Serge Gnabry

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This option is slightly unrealistic as Bayern have given no indication that they would entertain the sale of the German international. However, money is never an issue for the Cityzens and the Bavarians might even be open to it if it helps them fund the Harry Kane transfer.

As a right-footed right winger, Gnabry will fit the template of the wide man Guardiola seems to prefer in the latest iteration of his team. He likes to have his wingers stay wide by playing them on the side of their stronger foot. From there, cutbacks from the byline have been a regular source of goals for City.

Gnabry’s contract expires in 2026 so City can expect Bayern to demand a king’s ransom for the forward who played every league game for them last season, scoring 14 goals and notching five assists.

However, if they can get him, they will be upgrading the attack, more than they would if they sign Raphinha or Olmo. Gnabry’s prior experience of England with his time at West Brom and Arsenal is an added bonus.

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