Leicester City boss has set Premier League player of the year Riyad Mahrez an ambitious challenge after dropping him to the bench.
Mahrez was outstanding for the Foxes last year throughout their unlikely title triumph. The Algerian found the back of the net on 17 occasions in the Premier League, and also provided 11 assists for his teammates. Over the course of the season, he directly contributed to a goal every 108 minutes – which is simply remarkable.
He has struggled to replicate that sort of form this campaign, however, and Leicester’s position at the tail-end of the table is a reflection of his shortfalls.
Leicester manager Ranieri dropped him to the bench for his side’s clash with Everton, but it appears to have been a challenge rather than a punishment. The Sun quote the Italian in saying: “Now he has to improve. Having achieved what he did last season he has other responsibilities now.”
Ranieri went on to suggest Mahrez needs to emulate the two biggest names in world football if he wants to achieve his ultimate goal of winning the Ballon d’Or: “It is important he is more like Ronaldo and Messi. It is important he wants to win another Ballon d’Or like many big names have done before him.”
A Leicester player winning the most sought after individual honour in football seems improbable – but then again, so did Leicester winning the Premier League title.