“Even today, Paris doesn’t make me dream too much. It’s my city but I don’t see myself going back to Paris.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible. But I really don’t want to. I have no desire to return to France. France doesn’t tempt me at all. I like England.”
PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez admits he has absolutely no interest in returning to France to play for Paris Saint-Germain. It’s reported that the Champions League quarter-finalists are lining up a summer bid for the Algerian international.
Mahrez has excelled this season, his creative play and invaluable goals have pushed Leicester City to within three points of a first Premier League title; the 25 year old has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in a sensational campaign.
Despite growing up in the suburbs of Paris, Mahrez is adamant he would not be tempted by a move to the French champions.
What Do PSG Have To Offer Riyad Mahrez?
Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title at a canter for a fourth successive season.
The capital side eclipsed their previous biggest league victory, a 6-0 drubbing against Guingamp, to seal the league with a record 9-0 victory over Troyes at Stade de l’Aube.
Le Championnat scored eight times in what felt like a training session. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted four, Edinson Cavani scored twice while Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot were all on target in the biggest Ligue 1 victory of the season – a Matthieu Saunier own goal was salt in the wounds for the hosts.
Whereas PSG fans might describe the clubs title win as an ’emphatic way to secure the crown’, from a neutral perspective it was overwhelmingly boring.
The Parc des Princes club have been at the summit of the French league since the second week of the season and have utterly dominated every other team in the league – all significantly inferior opposition.
PSG won the title with a lead of 25 points over second-placed Monaco with an astonishing eight matches remaining, claiming the title at an unprecedentedly early stage.
PSG achieved a run of 36 matches undefeated without really breaking a sweat, stretching from March 2015 until February 2016, until Lyon finally ended their run in the shock result of the season. Their title push was strengthened no end by the inability of their ‘closest’ rivals to put together a strong run of form.
Second placed Monaco are currently languishing on a measly 52 points, whereas last season, Lyon, Marseille and Monaco had all surpassed that mark by this stage in the season.
A bit of a step down from the drama Mahrez has experienced on Leicester’s terrific journey towards Premier League glory!
France’s highest division now resembles something similar to the farcical Scottish Premiership. Unfortunately for the Parisians, PSG are becoming more like Celtic rather than the Bayern Munich they are aspiring to be – ‘The French Celtic’ is not something a talented star like Mahrez will want to be associated with.
PSG are now a side that races to the title at a canter, a sharp contrast to the Premier League, where dominant Leicester have climbed to the top of the pile – but importantly there are always three or four dominant sides who may not win the title, but put in a strong showing domestically and crucially, in Europe.
Where Do The Problems Lie For French Football?
Ligue 1 is completely devoid of quality outside of Paris. The likes of Marseille, Lyon, Monaco have been stripped of their best players year-in, year-out. They have now been amalgamated into the middle rank alongside the likes of Rennes, Nice who aren’t far off in quality.
‘The Great Exodus of French football’ saw many of the league’s brightest talents opt for a move to England at the end of 2015, and worryingly it wasn’t due to the draw of a top 4 club.
Stand-out example, Dimitri Payet was charmed by West Ham, Andre Ayew by Swansea. perhaps most concerning, the exciting prospect Max-Alain Gradel saw a more promising future with Premier League minnows Bournemouth, as opposed to Saint-Etienne.
It’s a sad state of affairs when the perceived giants of Marseille & Lyon cannot compete financially with lesser sides from across the Channel. According to data from Transfermarkt – the average spend per player and the total value of the squad at these supposedly top French clubs, is comparable to relegation dogfighters Crystal Palace or Sunderland in the Premier League.
Domestically, there’s a huge issue with the balance of quality – how any aspiring star can justify a career switch to Ligue 1 (other than for financial reasons, of course), is becoming a growing concern.
Paris Saint-Germain’s season budget of €490m is more than four times that of any other side and it’s crippling the state of the league – it also amounts to the combined total of their nearest rivals.
PSG have publicly voiced their concerns at the state of the domestic game. After four straight title wins, and now beating their nearest rivals by cricket scores, it hardly makes for a healthy & strong competition.
Mahrez is a rising force in European football, set to play in the Champions League for the first time next season – there would be no sense in him moving to France, slotting goals away for fun in front of 5,000 capacity crowds. The state of the French league is simply unhealthy, you can see why it is no longer an attractive prospect for the game most exciting players.