Manchester City's Mahrez to stay and fight for place despite limited opportunities
Riyad Mahrez is determined to stay at Manchester City and fight for his place after ending a tough Premier League season with a winner's medal.
The Algeria international arrived in the summer in a club-record £60 million deal from Leicester City but has struggled to regularly feature in Pep Guardiola's plans.
But he was recalled for his first Premier League start in six weeks for the final game of the season and scored a brilliant goal to help City to a 4-1 win over Brighton that saw them pip Liverpool to the title by just a single point.
"It's not easy to come to a team who are settled and have the players who play," Mahrez told reporters. "That squad did everything last season.
"I knew it wouldn't be easy in my first year but I'm very confident in myself and have no doubts about my quality. I knew that when I had my chance I'd take it. I scored at Brighton and helped the team.
"I'm very happy here. I'm not going somewhere else because I don't play. It's part of the game. I need to be strong, stay strong. It's part of my personality, I never hide away from things."
With the title race so close, it looked like Mahrez's penalty miss in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool back in October could potentially prove to be a pivotal moment.
But the 28-year-old would prefer to look back at his important contributions to the season, including scoring the only goals in 1-0 victories at Tottenham and Bournemouth.
"Of course if I scored [against Liverpool] we would have had two more points but in some games I scored and we won 1-0," he said. "So we're not going to count everything, it's about what we did.
"We need to congratulate Liverpool too, they are a great team. They have put us a lot of problems this season. They have lost the championship with 97 points. We had to get 98 points and the title race has lasted until the last day.
"I think we have deserved it, even if it has been a very tight title race. I think next season it's going to be even tighter title race."
Guardiola has rejected suggestions that Mahrez could leave in the summer and the forward has credited his coach with improving him as a player.
"It's a guy who believes and makes you believe and gives you the motivation to improve yourself and chase the excellence," he added.
"I think that is why he won so many trophies in his career as a manager. Next weekend we have another final and he is going to push us to win it as well.
"Next season, he is going to push us to win the Premier League again and the rest of the trophies, because that is his winning nature".
Mahrez could look to follow the example of teammate Bernardo Silva, who was in and out of Guardiola's side during his first season following a move from Monaco.
But the Portuguese has been a key figure in City's title success this time with Guardiola picking him out as his individual player of the season.
"I had a great season, we still have another game to play, but I'm very happy with my personal performance," Silva said. "I want to become even better next season.
"Guardiola's words mean a lot to me, it means I'm doing a good job, but we need to continue improving and keep winning more trophies, that's the most important thing."