The 30-year-old was seen as a player who could be moved this summer to raise money for the prosecution of Jack Grealish and Harry Kane.
But Mahrez himself rejected such a speech by committing to the cause of the Blues, and underlined it by playing in the preseason.
He doesn’t appear to be in direct threat if City get Grealish on the line next week, as the Aston Villa man has rarely played on the right side – although it’s rarely helpful to guess Guardiola’s intentions.
But the ripple effect would mean Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva – if the Portugal international stays – could all move to the right, where Mahrez reigned supreme in the run-in last season.
Mahrez makes it clear he’s still the main man as the Blues head for a tough start to the season in danger of being believed.
After a restful summer with Algeria not involved in any international tournaments, and after two weeks of solid pre-season work, he reminded everyone of the class that allowed him to start confidently towards the end. from last season.
In a one-sided first half, his cultivated left foot prepared Edozie for the opener, opened up defense for Joao Cancelo to help Knight’s second, and then topped it all off with a superb volley finish.
Jack Grealish may be a £ 100million player, but on this display Mahrez must be worth something close!
Leicester were asking for £ 95million for the ex-player of the year when City first signed him, an assessment the Blues dismissed as nonsense and walked away from it. They returned six months later and got it back for £ 60million, a good deal in retrospect.
Most of City’s first-team will be back next week, and the Blues hastily organized another friendly behind closed doors – against Blackpool on Tuesday – to try and put as many of them on the table as possible. during the Premier League opener at Spurs on August 15.
But Guardiola has already said he will play ‘second team’ at Wembley for the Community Shield against Leicester next week, which likely means as many first teams as possible, complemented by some of the young thrusters who have featured here.
With a sniff of that game in their nostrils, the kids fight for their chances, and it was noteworthy that James McAtee and Sam Edozie – who drew attention in the second half against Preston – both started, both only changes from the starting XI in this game.
Edozie didn’t hurt himself in the preseason, seizing his chance against Preston with excellent wing play, culminating in a well-scored goal.
And after starting here he scored another goal after 24 minutes as City showed it’s not just short passes with expansive movement.
Ruben Dias, who stepped up a gear after his mild midweek workout, looped a long ball to the right for Riyad Mahrez to chase after him and the winger controlled with the usual ease, then crossed for the youngster. 18-year-old who just had to keep his cool from beating the defender on the line.
Six minutes later it was 2-0 with the damage against the city on the right, and with Mahrez – who has no plans to lose his palace in the squad to a 100 million player. pounds sterling – again heavily involved.
The Algerian star slipped a neat pass to the right and Joao Cancelo this time found the measured cross which gave Knight a chance he could hardly miss.
The youngster struggled against two huge league defenders midweek, and he faced the same dilemma in that game.
But he showed he learned, with a more determined physical approach, and he gave the Barnsley guys a lot of trouble, deserving his goal when it came.
City were in full control, and the only thing Mahrez was missing after an assist and assist was a goal – and when that happened, it was another beauty.
His left foot had defeated Preston with a magnificent free kick, and this time – confidence running through him – he didn’t hesitate to take on him from the bottom of the volley without breaking the stride – and goalkeeper Brad Collins flashed everything low. and hard before he can move.
The question at this point was how City could score before massive changes took place, and they should have had a fourth when Cole Palmer’s dancing feet tempted Cauley Woodrow in a reckless challenge. Palmer took the blame himself and joined the esteemed ranks of City players who have missed out over the past two years, his kick lacking the power to escape Collins’ plunge.
Guardiola knocked out Ruben Dias at half-time, but otherwise gave his first teammates 60 or 70 minutes and also introduced Ilkay Gundogan and Aleks Zinchenko to action during the final half hour.
The changes disrupted the fluid pace, but City still managed another goal when substitute Pablo Moreno’s tailgating attempt fell gently for Nathan Ake to finish, his last act before being pulled out.