Riyad Mahrez looks certain to leave Leicester City on transfer deadline day after he was released from international duty to travel to Europe to complete his move.
The Algeria international had made it clear much earlier in the summer that he wants to leave the King Power Stadium outfit but has been unable to secure a move thus far. He was linked to Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger quashed the move, while there has also been interest from Chelsea.
The biggest enquiry came from AS Roma, who had multiple bids turned down by the Foxes, who are unwilling to lower their £50m ($64.6m) valuation for Mahrez. The 26-year-old has started the season in fine fashion for Leicester having played the full 90 minutes in all three of their games, but it looks like it could be his last after the Algeria Football Federation confirmed that he has left the team to travel to Europe to complete a summer move.
"Leicester City's Algerian international Riyad Mahrez, who is currently with the national team in Sidi Moussa to prepare for the double confrontation against Zambia for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, was authorised by the national coach Lucas Alcaraz and the Algerian Football Federation to make an express trip to Europe to formalise on Thursday his transfer to his new club," the statement read on the Algeria Football Federation's official site.
"The national team will fly without him on Thursday morning to Lusaka to face Zambia on Saturday," the statement added.
The club that Mahrez will join still remains a mystery, but according to Spanish publication AS, Barcelona are among the favourites after they identified him as a backup if their move for Philippe Coutinho fails. The Catalan club is said to have contacted the Leicester midfielder and informed him they will sign him if they fail to sign the Liverpool midfielder.
The report claims that Arsenal and Chelsea are also still interested in signing the player, but could lose out to Barcelona, whose interest has turned Mahrez's head. He is said to prefer a move to Camp Nou over other options, but will have to wait until the last minute owing to Coutinho being their number one target.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have also been credited with interest with Jose Mourinho said to be pondering a late move. The Portuguese manager has been pining for a winger since the start of the transfer window and has failed with moves for Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale.