Riyad Mahrez is reportedly wanting to join Arsenal because of the presence of Arsene Wenger. If he came, he certainly would be at the perfect club under the perfect manager for his talent to flourish.
Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have played a rather entrenched, well-defined style that rarely changes. It is one that suits particular players especially well, allowing them to flourish in certain roles, but can become a hindrance to others who lack the necessary skills to fulfil the duties of their given role.
Mikel Arteta is the perfect example of this. When he arrived at the club, he was a creative, attacking midfielder, finding space in the final third, pulling the proverbial strings with his intelligent, piercing passes.
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But Wenger wants pace and power in the final third, blended with a creative player at the heart of it. When Santi Cazorla arrived, Arteta was pushed deeper, eventually stationed as the anchorman of the midfield. In this role, while he lacked the athleticism to cover the ground that many managers would have liked, as well as struggling with his defensive positioning and his tackling at times, he dictated play when in possession beautifully, providing the perfect foundation for the more attacking players in the side to work their magic.
Other players have been played in the same position since, from Mathieu Flamini to Francis Coquelin, and none have been able to replicate the same accurate and tempo-setting distribution of Arteta. That is why, towards the latter stages of last season, we saw Granit Xhaka play in that role, as he possesses the passing range, the vision and intelligence to play passes into the feet of more advanced teammates.
In a very similar fashion, in wide areas, Wenger is rather particular about the skills his players must boast. They must be extremely proficient technically, able to link-up the attacking moves in extremely tight areas, they must be quick and sharp in compact spaces, and they must be able to score and create goals in the final third. That is where Riyad Mahrez enters the fray.
The Leicester City winger has been linked with a move to the Emirates, with Wenger himself fanning the flames with some intriguing comments about not yet making a bid for his services just after the season drew to a close, and Mahrez publicly declaring that he wants to leave the King Power this summer.
But more than Arsenal’s need, Wenger’s liking of the player and Mahrez’s wanting to leave, it is the complementary fit of the Algerian’s skills to Wenger’s playing style that is so exciting and promising. There is no team that Mahrez would be better suited to than Arsenal. He could truly flourish there.