I am The Reason, Mahrez Is Not Playing – Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, admits he is “sad” over Riyad Mahrez’s lack of playing time, but says the winger’s form is not to blame.
Mahrez, City’s £60m record signing last summer, has had limited game-time this season, not starting a Premier League match since the victory at Southampton on December 30.
The Algeria international has impressed Guardiola with his attitude on the training pitch, but the form of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva has simply prevented him getting into the side.
“I am the reason [he has not played]. He is absolutely not guilty,” Guardiola said.
“I am sad because he is training incredibly. He is an incredibly talented player but at this moment we have five strikers. In the last games Leroy hasn’t played.
“We have incredible players, like for example Bernardo and Raz [Sterling] in top, top form and that is the only reason why. There’s no particular reason, like being upset or something like that.
“He is a guy we are happy with but unfortunately I am not kind with him. In fact, I cannot give him the minutes he deserves, so I’m sorry. That’s all I can say.”
Mahrez could be involved in City’s FA Cup fifth round tie against Newport on Saturday, where the 27-year-old will hope to add to his nine goals in all competitions this season.
“It’s not easy for one guy who does not play regularly to come in and play at a high, high level. Give him five or six games in a row playing and he is going to play at the level of Sterling or Bernardo, or the players who play,” Guardiola added.
“When he played four or five games in a row he was incredible, outstanding. I don’t have any doubts about his quality. Just keep going, no too much complain, move forward and fight more and more.
“His time is coming and I’m pretty sure he is going to play good.”
By Melvin Illah