Riyad Mahrez has opened up on his battle to establish himself at Manchester City and his fight to prove himself to Pep Guardiola.
Mahrez became City’s record signing when he joined from Leicester for a fee of £60million in the summer of 2018.
But the 29-year-old, who won the Premier League title with Leicester, struggled to win a regular place in City’s record-breaking side.
But Mahrez, now a key player for City, revealed how he learned what he needed to do to be effective within the team and become an automatic pick.
“At City, the team is built to win every game,” said Mahrez. “We try to win everything we’re playing for.
“Last year, when I arrived, the manager trusted me and believed in me, but I didn’t make the difference as quick as they thought I would.
“At a club like City, they don’t have time to wait.
“There are 20 top players and I was on the bench when others were performing, so it was a bit difficult for me to come back.
“But I played well towards the end of the season, and I started this season differently.
“When I’ve played, I’ve been performing so the confidence is here.”
Mahrez caught Guardiola and City’s eye with his stunning performances in Leicester’s title-winning campaign of 2015-16, in which he scored 17 goals.
And the Algeria international recalled how that historic season with the Foxes ultimately helped him to step up to the challenge of playing for City.
“In my first year in the Premier League with Leicester, we were struggling a bit,” recalled Mahrez on The Football Show.
“But I always felt like I was playing good and that I could do something.
“The next year, we started very strong and the team was so good. When I started scoring, the confidence went up.
“When I arrived at City, I noticed how everyone sits back so you have to think differently.
“You have to deal differently with your opponent and, in my case, the left-back, because he’s always in front of me.
“They also always have help around him, with a midfielder or the winger, so you have to change your play and your movement.
“You have to adapt to this. It took me a little bit of time but now I feel I’m set up very well.”
Mahrez admitted the coronavirus pandemic and the enforced break from football had given him a greater appreciation of his career and life.
“I’m always looking to play,” said Mahrez. “I have balls everywhere in my house, so I always try to be in contact with the ball.
“With what’s been happening the past few months, it makes you realise as a footballer what a beautiful job you have.
“You have to love what you’re doing and you have to enjoy the life you have.”