In Focus: Magical Mahrez is City's main man
Manchester City are hunting a Premier League and Champions League double — and Riyad Mahrez will be key to helping them achieve it.
The Citizens are yet to claim Europe's biggest prize, with manager Pep Guardiola making no secret of his desire to bring continental success to the Etihad.
As his side prepare to host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tonight, we take a look at why the Algeria star is shaping their search for silverware.
After the £100million arrival of Jack Grealish last summer, there were fears for Mahrez's future in Manchester.
The number of first-class wingers in City's squad raised questions as to whether the 31-year-old's game time would be more limited.
But there has been no doubting Guardiola's reliance on Mahrez in big games this term, with the Paris native making 42 appearances across all competitions to date.
The winger started both legs of the Citizens' Champions League quarter-final clash with Atletico Madrid, completing the most dribbles (four) of any visiting player at the Wanda Metropolitano.
In total, he has started nine of City's 10 European games so far this campaign and was only benched for the second leg of the last-16 tie against Sporting with the Citizens enjoying a 5-0 advantage.
Another string that the 75-cap international has added to his bow is his deadliness in front of goal.
Mahrez has racked up a staggering 31 goal involvements across all competitions this season and is City's top scorer with 23 strikes.
The winger has found the net 0.74 goals per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season. That is the second-best record in the division, behind only Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (0.76).
Mahrez is enjoying his most prolific campaign to date — already scoring five more times than in 2015-16, when he won the title with Leicester.
The Citizens' No26 has now netted over 10 goals in every season since arriving at the Etihad, with over a quarter of his strikes this term coming in the Champions League.
Mahrez's blistering form this term has aligned with an increase in his output.
The forward has created 2.3 chances per 90 in the top flight this season, which is the eighth-most of any player in the Premier League.
City have been frustrated on numerous occasions with teams deploying a low-block but the former Le Havre man's 2.97 attempted take-ons per 90 have been crucial to breaking opponents down.
Mahrez has also completed 23.11 passes into the final third per 90, which is the third-highest in the Premier League.
With Erling Haaland reportedly ready to move to Manchester in the summer, the thought of the Norwegian superstar getting on the end of those killer balls is a tantalising prospect.
It is set to be a dramatic end to the season for Mahrez and his City team-mates as they bid to win the double.
Guardiola's men are a point ahead of second-place Liverpool in the Premier League and are into the last four of the Champions League for just the third time in their history.
With his undeniable big-game influence, Mahrez could hold the key if City are to triumph on both fronts — and the winger is looking forward to the challenge.
Speaking about his goal contributions earlier this season, he said: "I feel good at the moment, as long as it helps the team to achieve and to win the games, that's all that matters to me.
"We know we have the quality to arrive at the end. We're in a good moment and we have to keep it up and keep going."
Despite his sensational displays, media reports suggest Mahrez's future may soon lie away from the Etihad.
Both Paris Saint-Germain and tonight's opponents Real have expressed an interest in acquiring the attacker's services.
It is believed that PSG see Mahrez as a replacement for the outgoing Angel Di Maria, with the enigmatic Argentine likely to leave at the end of his current deal.
With Mahrez's contract at City set to expire in 2023, this summer may be their last chance to sell their in-form — but ageing — wide man for a significant fee.