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Benarbia, now a football pundit on French TV, enjoyed two fine seasons with the Blues from 2001 to 2003, making 78 appearances.
He believes Mahrez now has the perfect stage to become an even better player.
“Everyone in Algeria has been waiting for Mahrez to move to a really big club to see the next stage of his development,” said Ali.
“He did a fantastic job for Leicester City, winning the Premier League and the PFA Player of the Year, but Algerians have been desperate to see him playing alongside even better players in a stronger squad.
“The whole of Algeria is very excited at his move and you will see Algerian flags at the Etihad Stadium next season, without a doubt with many people in his country supporting him.
“In France, too, I think people have been waiting to see how he does at a big club and I think they will see a different player this year.
“I think he will do very well and the thought of Leroy Sane on wing and Riyad Mahrez on the other is very exciting – he will give Pep Guardiola more options in attack and it will be interesting to see the various attacking combinations City can use.
Benarbia played most of his football in France and like Mahrez, spent most of his life there before moving to England.
Many City fans lamented the fact that Benarbia arrived at Maine Road at the wrong end of his career, but the former Blue believes Mahrez has joined the Club at the preface age.
“When you arrive at 26 or 27, it is the perfect time because you are approaching your peak,” he said.
“I signed for City when I was 33 and it was a different time – the Club had been up and down through the divisions; the squad was different, and the playing style was different - and I was a little bit old!
“I think he couldn’t have chosen a better club because of Pep Guardiola and the beautiful football he loves his team to play.
“He will have opportunities to score more goals and make more assists and it will be fascinating to watch.
“We needed more attacking options, despite how well things went last season – it’s always good to have new alternatives.”
So, can Ali see similarities between his style of play and Riyad’s?
He said: “We are different players – I was a playmaker and he is a winger who can play on the right or the left. He’s unbelievably quick with and without the ball and that’s why we are different in our styles.
“I think he has more quality and can be a bigger player than I was, but we need to see how far he can push himself.
“He is excellent with set-pieces, free-kicks and corners and I think he is exactly what City needed.
“I think City will prioritise the Premier League this season, but also look to do really well in the Champions League as well, especially after the disappointment of losing to Liverpool.”
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