I am sorry for benching Mahrez – Guardiola 

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Pep Guardiola says he is sad and “sorry that Manchester City record signing Riyad Mahrez has not started a Premier League match since the end of December.

National Daily gathered that Mahrez joined from Leicester for £60 million last summer and was ultimately the Premier League champions’ only senior signing, after a move for Jorginho collapsed.

The Algerian started to find his feet in Guardiola’s side in the autumn, but found games harder to come by over Christmas and has virtually vanished from the Premier League set-up in the past six weeks.

Guardiola picked the 27-year-old for all four games in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup in January, but left him out of the match day squad to face Huddersfield and kept him on the bench against Liverpool, Wolves, Newcastle and Everton. “Yeah, I have a reason,” Guardiola said at his press conference.

Pressed further, he continued: “My reason. I am the reason. He is not absolutely guilty or he doesn’t feel any special reason why.

“I am sad because he is training incredibly, he is an incredibly talented player but in this moment we have five strikers, for example the last games Leroy [Sane] hasn’t played either. We have incredible players, like for example Bernardo [Silva] and Raz [Sterling] are in top, top form and that is the only reason why, there’s no particular reason, like being upset or something like that.

“He is a guy we are happy with, but unfortunately I am not kind with him, in the fact I cannot give him the minutes he deserves, so I’m sorry, that’s all I can say.”

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