REUTERS – Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez must learn to deal with being a marked man, his manager Claudio Ranieri said after Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 Premier League draw with bottom side Aston Villa.
Mahrez has taken the league by storm this season, scoring 13 goals and contributing seven assists in 20 league starts.
However, the Algeria international has not found the back of the net in his last five matches and Ranieri believes the winger’s dip in form may be because opposing defenders are singling him out for special attention.
“He was fantastic at the beginning and now a lot of people are around him, trying to take the ball or trying to take the legs,” Ranieri told British media.
“And it’s important he understands this new thing on the pitch, that everyone wants to stop him with the right way or the wrong way. He has to be very clever.”
Ranieri’s men have only managed one win since a 1-0 loss to Liverpool last month — picking up four draws in the process to sit second in the league behind Arsenal on goal difference.
Mahrez has missed two successive penalties — in the goalless draw with Bournemouth this month and on Saturday against Villa — and Ranieri intends to hold talks with the 24-year-old.
“If I remember well, this is the second or third mistake from Riyad. I want to speak with him,” the former Chelsea manager said.
“If he is calm, if he wants to continue to shoot the goal, he can continue but now it is important to think about the next match.”
Leicester host seventh-placed Stoke City on Saturday.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)