Mahrez, a flying fox

Riyad Mahrez Celebrates after scoring the first goal for Leicester City against Tottenham Hotspur.-REUTERS

Riyad Mahrez has become one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League, and has played a huge role in Leicester remaining unbeaten by the time the first international break of the season arrived.

Few people would have predicted Riyad Mahrez to be arguably the best player in the opening month of the new English Premier League season.

While the likes of Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane are yet to get off the mark, the Leicester winger has raced to four goals in only four games — a haul which only Bafetimbi Gomis at Swansea can match.

His performances have allowed new Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri to make a dream start to his reign at the King Power Stadium but he is not willing to let the player get complacent, claiming Mahrez still has work to do to become the perfect all-round player.

The Algerian has already equalled his goal tally for the whole of last season, prompting rave reviews from pundits and managers alike, not to mention the transfer speculation surrounding his future.

Before the transfer window shut he was linked him with a move to Arsenal and more recent rumours have suggested Barcelona are monitoring his progress, highlighting the impact he has made this campaign.

Mahrez is understandably thrilled with his start and, after his brace in the season opener against Sunderland, he spoke of the feeling he gets playing for the club.

“We have to carry on,” he told Foxes Player. “When I’m playing in this stadium it’s like I’m flying.”

Mahrez could perhaps be forgiven for not keeping his feet on the ground, as the Premier League is a world away from the humble start he made to his playing career.

The French-born winger started his career at French amateur club Quimper, before moving on to Le Havre in Ligue 2.

He initially failed to make an impact and played most of his games for their second team before being promoted to the senior squad the following season after a string of impressive performances. Mahrez scored a rather modest six goals in 60 games in Le Havre’s first team before moving to Leicester in January 2014.

After signing for the Foxes while they were still in the Championship under Nigel Pearson, Mahrez has not looked back and looks set to be one of the club’s shrewdest signings in years.

While Leicester paid only a small transfer fee, his signing was still a gamble but one which has now paid off.

He has become one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League, and has played a huge role in Leicester remaining unbeaten by the time the first international break of the season arrived. Ranieri has praised his star player but has warned he must improve too.

“Mahrez is important but all the team is very important. In this moment he is in great condition and he is very good for the team,” said the well-travelled former Chelsea boss.

“His passing is good, his shooting is good and his ideas are good — that is important for all the team.

“But I am an Italian manager and I am interested also in how he defends, and he is getting better.”

After two goals against Sunderland, the winner at West Ham and a stunning individual equaliser against Spurs, Ranieri believes Mahrez can push on and get even better after a strong finish to last season.

“I told the players, ‘you finished very well last season’ and I wanted to see them restart at the same level,” said Ranieri.

“He will improve and at the end he could be a very, very complete player.”

And Leicester will spend the month of January battling to keep such a hot prospect.

© PA Sport