Arsenal have been warned against signing Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez as rumours mount that the PFA Players Player of the Year has agreed to move to north London. Former defender Lauren, part of the unbeaten 'Invicibles' side which won the 2003-04 Premier League title, is concerned the Mahrez is too similar to the players already at Arsene Wenger's disposal and that he wouldn't suit the current squad.
Algerian publication Le Buteur claim Mahrez – who scored 17 league goals last term as the Foxes won the title – has held talks with Wenger and agreed in principal a move to The Emirates Stadium, in a deal worth £35m ($46.3m) with wages of £100,000-a-week. Claudio Ranieri admits Mahrez has become distracted by the rumours over his future but is currently in line to start the new campaign with Leicester.
After the low-key arrivals of Granit Xhaka, Takuma Asano and Rob Holding, Mahrez's arrival at Arsenal would be the marque addition supporters have been craving after years of seemingly treading water in the transfer window. But Lauren has warned that despite Mahrez enjoying an impressive campaign last term he would represent an ill-thought out addition.
"Mahrez is not needed at Arsenal," he told The Evening Standard. "He is a very good player, but how many similar players in terms of technically proficient, creative midfielders and widemen do Arsenal have already? They have Mesut Ozil, they have Jack Wilshere, they have Aaron Ramsey, they have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they have Theo Walcott – Arsenal don't need Mahrez.
"Arsenal have always had dynamic players – but they need to change that style a little bit, maybe be a little more direct, with more aggressiveness, and determination – which means players with a different style than Mahrez can offer."
Though the former Cameroon international has questioned Arsenal's pursuit of Mahrez, he does believe the club's forward line needs refreshing ahead of the prospect of Olivier Giroud leading the line this season. The 29-year-old was subject of criticism over his contribution last term, which included a run of close to four months without a goal, leading to calls for Wenger to sign a replacement.
Giroud continued to come under fire during the summer's European Championships, where he missed a host of chances in the final defeat to Portugal in Paris as hosts France failed to claim the title on home turf.
"Don't get me wrong. I respect Olivier Giroud and he has an important part to play next season through the goals he does score," Lauren added. "But you need people with 'charisma'. It's more than about scoring goals, you need a striker with the X-factor... with charisma. And despite being a fantastic player Giroud doesn't have that."