Arsenal told to sign African attacker ahead of 23-year-old England star

Arsenal legend Alan Smith has urged Arsene Wenger to sign Riyad Mahrez ahead of Ross Barkley

Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez Photo: Riyad Mahrez/Instagram

Alan Smith has urged Arsenal to sign Leicester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez ahead of Everton playmaker Ross Barkley this summer.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman confirmed earlier this week that Barkely is likely to leave the Goodison Park outfit in the summer transfer window after struggling under the Dutch coach last term.

Arsenal have been named as one potential destination for the England international, but the Gunners could face competition from Premier League champions Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

The north London side are reported to have made three bids to sign AS Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar but the Ligue 1 champions are reluctant to sell the France international.

Leicester City playmaker Riyad Mahrez has been linked as a potential alternative to Lemar, and Arsene Wenger spoke in glowing terms about the Algerian earlier this summer.

Speaking to talkSPORT about whether Arsenal need to sign Barkely or Mahrez this summer, former Gunners striker Smith said:

“I’d say [Arsenal should go after] Mahrez more than Barkley.

“I think he’s more of a match winner and he’s a more mature player.

“I’ve just come back from Hong Kong watching Liverpool and Leicester in the Asia Trophy, and Mahrez looked sharp.

“Whether he’s playing for a move, putting himself in the shop window, I don’t know.

“He’s definitely a Champions League player, although I know Arsenal aren’t in that competition this year.”

Fact file: Riyad Mahrez

– Riyad Mahrez moved to Leicester City from French club Le Harve in the 2014 January transfer window.

– The African star ended his first full season in the Premier League with four goals and three assists.

– Mahrez came into his own in Leicester’s title-winning campaign after a return of 17 times and create 11 goals.

– The Algeria international was named the PFA player of the year for his performances in the 2015-16 season.

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