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Transfer rumor: Algerian international Riyad Mahrez to Villarreal?

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He has French citizenship as well, so wouldn't count against our extracomunitario quota.

Mahrez in action for Leicester
Mahrez in action for Leicester
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Castellón Confidential, among others, is reporting Villarreal is close to signing Algerian winger Riyad Mehrez, currently playing with Leicester City.  (Note: the headline says 'estaría cerca'; when the headline says a signing is "muy cerca", then I start to believe it a bit more).

Why this makes sense: Mehrez can play on both wings, but is primarily a right winger, though he's been used on the left for Algeria.   Hernán Perez's future at the club is certainly uncertain, as he was sold once and it's hard to imagine Marcelino wanting to work him into the lineup again; Javier Aquino is on loan to Rayo for the remainder of the season; Cani has been injured much of the season, and as we've seen lately, Villarreal has been experimenting with players on the right wing like Rukavina and Jonathan dos Santos.  (Moi has been used more on the left).  Plus, Mahrez has excellent speed and agility.

Leicester are bottom of the EPL, and Mahrez hasn't been getting as much playing time as Leicester fans feel he deserves, so maybe selling him now would be better for them than in the summer if they're relegated.

Why this doesn't make sense:  It doesn't make a lot of sense if you figure Aquino is returning to play an important role next fall, and if you think Cani can still play regularly.   Also, Mahrez has been called up to the Algerian side for the African Cup of Nations, so we wouldn't have him until February.  Realistically, given the amount of time it would take him to work into our side, he wouldn't be likely to provide a lot of help this year.  He's also not really a two-way player.   Aquino will fight to win the ball back, Mahrez, not so much; he can leave his right back exposed, which is a flaw in his game he'd definitely have to work on if he came here.

Although Leicester City is bottom of the EPL, I wonder if salary would be an issue--and do you really want to sell one of your best young talents midway through your EPL season?  Seems like that's pretty much accepting relegation as inevitable.   Two other factors:  Roma is interested, and they have plenty of money to throw around.   And Marcelino has said he feels pretty good with the current squad.

Conclusion:  Paying €3-4m for him seems like a reasonable risk (he's only 23 and two years ago was playing in the French second division), but Villarreal are not a club with a lot of money to burn, so I really only see it as likely if we are figuring we can earn the money back through selling Aquino in the summer.    I like it as a move for 2015-2016 and beyond, but I'm guessing it probably won't happen.