Men's Team

Guardiola hails Mahrez’s big-game mentality

Pep Guardiola says the way in which Riyad Mahrez handles the pressure of big games sets him apart from other players.

The Manchester City boss admits he demands a lot of the Algerian winger, but admires his ability to deliver when it matters most.

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Mahrez came to the fore as a key player towards the end of last season, when he delivered a series of inspired goalscoring performances against Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain to propel City to our first Champions League final.

Having established himself as City’s first-choice penalty taker, the 31-year-old has proved he can excel in pressure situations and Guardiola says that is a talent which is difficult to find.

“I try to push him a lot,” said the boss ahead of Monday’s game against Crystal Palace.

“We struggle together because I know the quality he has and he’s a player I admire for the fact he handles the pressure.

“He likes to play in the biggest stages. It’s difficult to find that and players like him.

“Not just me, the whole club has an incredibly high opinion of him and his quality, no doubt about that.”

With 21 goals to his name already, Mahrez is enjoying the most prolific campaign of his career to date.

City’s No.26 has scored six times in the Champions League and grabbed a brace as we cruised to victory in the Manchester derby.

Guardiola believes City are lucky to have the Algerian and says he can raise his game even further to recapture his outstanding form of the previous campaign.

“He’s an exceptional player,” the Catalan added. “He’s a player that many teams would like to have.

“He’s scored a lot of goals, penalties, assists and everything and part of that is the quality. He reads the game perfectly when he has to attack or give an extra pass.

“But I will not say it’s his best season or not because he’s played in the Premier League for many seasons at a high level. Last season, for example, he was exceptional.

“The final quarter of the season until the end he was so important and playing really well.”

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