Manchester City’s record signing Riyad Mahrez is openly griping about a lack of minutes — despite making 42 appearances in his debut season.
The £60million summer capture has been an unused substitute in each of City’s last three games at a crucial stage of the campaign.
And Sportsmail understands Mahrez was making his displeasure known around the club’s City Football Academy training centre for some time prior to that.
The 28-year-old believes his technical ability should have yielded more than 13 starts in the Premier League, although the level of his performances has fluctuated throughout the year.
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Mahrez has scored six goals and registered three assists in 26 league appearances since his switch from Leicester City last July.
Four of his 11 goals in all competitions came against lower-league opposition.
Guardiola picked the Algeria international ahead of Leroy Sane for the first leg of City’s Champions League quarter-final defeat by Tottenham but he struggled to affect the game.
Mahrez was also ineffectual away at Swansea City in the FA Cup last month, hooked with City two goals down, and he blazed a late penalty over the bar in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in October.
Guardiola has always maintained that Mahrez trains well. The City manager publicly apologised to him and claimed he is ‘sad’ at the winger’s lack of starts, but also pointed to the form of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva.
Both attackers have been shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award — which Mahrez won at Leicester in 2016 — and are integral to the way in which City play.
Sterling has scored 17 league goals this season, only two behind Sergio Aguero, while Silva offers industry from the right and often unlocks defences.