Riyad Mahrez was said to be devastated that his move to Manchester City fell through (Picture: Getty)Paul Merson and Phil Thompson have slammed ‘ridiculous’ Riyad Mahrez and urged Leicester City to punish the winger.
After missing out on a move to Manchester City during the January transfer window, Mahrez missed five consecutive days of training and did not feature in the Premier League clash against Swansea City.
He will also miss Saturday’s trip to the Etihad, despite returning to training on Friday.
Liverpool legend Thompson told Sky Sports: ‘I’ve got absolutely no sympathy for him. It has been handled very poorly by him and his agent.
‘I don’t understand why he had to hand in a transfer request. Surely if Manchester City wanted him then they would have gone about it the right way and agreed a deal earlier.
‘I know these opportunities come along once in a while but he’s taken bad advice in handing in that request and staying away from training.
Claude Puel hopes Mahrez can ‘get his head right’ (Picture: Getty)‘He was willing to take the new contract so he should honour that, especially with the size of the wage he’s on, so he needs to get himself back and apologise.
‘The players will wind him up but it will be over and done with in a week, and then it will be how the fans take him back.
‘The club have got to punish him and the PFA have got to back the club. He’s in breach of contract and if it was the other way round they would come down on the club.’
Merson, the former Arsenal and England forward, added: ‘I did have sympathy with Mahrez, but I don’t now.
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‘Since the window’s shut, you can understand a couple of days to get your head together and sort yourself out, but this is getting ridiculous now.
‘I don’t know what the club should do, that’s up to them, they should have taken £65m in my opinion, and now they’re struggling.
‘He’s got to come back, no one’s going to take him if he doesn’t come back. This isn’t normal.
‘Players get the hump, don’t get me wrong, they think ‘I should have got a move’, but Philippe Coutinho thought that and he was going to the dream of all dreams in Barcelona.
Mahrez returned to training on Friday (Picture: Getty)‘He came back, performed and got his move. You’ve got to come back, there’s nothing he can do now, nothing. He’s only making it worse now, whatever happens.’
Leicester boss Claude Puel refused to go into detail about Mahrez’s situation on Thursday, but said he hoped he can ‘get his head right’ and return to the squad with the right attitude.
‘I don’t want to comment and give details of our relationship with Riyad. It is important to all details remain inside the club and not in the public,’ he said ahead of the fixture against Manchester City.
‘I hope Riyad can get his head right and to come back with us and to hard work. The best way is to come and to enjoy his football.
‘Riyad is a magnificent player and he loves football. He loves his relationship with his friends and team-mates. He needs to come back and to play, to touch the ball.’
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