Ghana's No. 1

Manchester City 4-0 Barnsley: Riyad Mahrez shows he's ready to fight Jack Grealish for his place

Published on: 31 July 2021

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City are still 'far away' with less than a week to go before their competitive season kicks off but at least Riyad Mahrez is playing like a man possessed.

More accurately, the Algerian winger is playing like a man who knows £100 million Jack Grealish could well be on his way to the Etihad this week.

With Grealish - and Tottenham striker Harry Kane - still very much top of Guardiola's hit list, Mahrez could be the player to miss out if the Aston Villa man arrives.

But in a behind closed doors friendly at City's academy stadium, Mahrez laid on two and scored a brilliant third himself as his team blitzed Barnsley with three goals in 11 minutes.

After 23 minutes, Mahrez's perfect low cross was tapped in by youngster Sam Edozie.

Then on the half-hour, Mahrez's excellent pass found Joao Cancelo who centred for England youth striker Ben Knight to net.

And then Benjamin Mendy's brilliant floated cross was met by an even more eye-catching first-time volley from Mahrez which flew past Brad Collins.

Cole Palmer saw his penalty well saved before the break but defender Nathan Ake did add a fourth, scoring from close range after a 68th minute scramble.

Guardiola was also able to throw on returning Ilkay Gundogan and Aleksandr Zinchenko in the second half as his international stars make a gradual return but with the Community Shield clash with Leicester looming on Saturday, the City manager knows time is against him.

Guardiola said: 'We don't have much time but we give minutes and that is good. Today, half an hour for Alex and Gundo and we try to continue to do this.

'We're far away still. There are a lot of things to improve, that is good. Every training session - two or three more players come back tomorrow and then at the end of the week others.

'So step by step they are starting to come back. The best way to get your condition and remember what we are is by playing games.'

City have hastily re-arranged another pre-season friendly against Championship opponents, with Blackpool visiting on Tuesday.


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