Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez has ended his self-imposed exile by returning to training and says “presumptions” about his absence are “totally without foundation”.
The 26-year-old had not trained with his team-mates since Manchester City launched a bid to sign him at the end of the January transfer window, but returned to the field on Friday.
The sequence of events came after the Foxes blocked what would have been a dream move to the Premier League leaders for Mahrez, and he has subsequently missed the games against Everton and Swansea.
Leicester announced on Friday that Mahrez was back in action, and he then released a statement of his own to add clarity to the situation.
“Over the past 10 days many people claiming to be my friend have spoken about me and things they know nothing about,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Off the back of that many people and journalists have made assumptions without properly checking the story, so I would like to clarify that all those so-called assumptions of why I was absent are completely untrue.
“Myself nor my advisors have ever made any statements about that so all presumptions made are totally without foundation.”
Mahrez went on to say that Leicester knew where he was throughout his absence.
“Leicester City were always aware of my whereabouts and had knowledge of my thinking either directly or via my advisors,” he said.
“I have been a part of the Leicester City team that has achieved much success including promotion to the Premier League and being champions of the league.
“My goals have always been the same and I have always given my full 100 per cent when I play for the club the fans and my team-mates.
“Those goals remain the same today and in the future and when I am asked to be a part of the Leicester team, rest assured I will continue to give my all.”
Earlier in the day, Leicester had welcomed Mahrez back into the fold.
As well as sharing social media videos of him training, a statement said: “Riyad Mahrez has today (Friday) returned to training with the Leicester City squad. Riyad remains a greatly valued member of Claude Puel’s squad and is focused, together with his team-mates, on achieving further success with Leicester City.”
It remains to be seen if Mahrez’s return to the first-team picture will see him in action on Saturday against, of all teams, Manchester City.
Mahrez put in a transfer request in order to try and force a move to City. It was his second attempt at trying to leave the King Power Stadium after also handing in a transfer request at the end of the 2016-17 season, with Leicester then rejecting a bid from Roma.