Riyad Mahrez deservedly picked up the PFA Player of the Year award back in April following a remarkable campaign with Premier League champions Leicester City.
The Algeria international scored 17 goals and registered 11 assists to bag himself the prestigious individual accolade previously won by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez.
One of Leicester’s rewards for securing the most unlikely of Premier League title wins was the chance to compete with Barcelona at this summer’s International Champions Cup.
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The Foxes were beaten 4-2 at the Friends Arena in Solna, with the Catalan giants - and Lionel Messi, in particular - putting on a real show during the opening 45 minutes.
However, a superb brace from summer signing Ahmed Musa sent the travelling Leicester fans home happy. They’d watched their side go toe-to-toe against arguably the best team on the planet and score twice.
Mahrez is a huge Messi fan
For Mahrez, the match presented an opportunity to meet one of his heroes.
“When people mention me and Messi together it's amazing, because to me Messi is the best of the best,” the 25-year-old said in an interview with the Telegraph last December. “You can't say anything to him, he's the boss. I always watch Barcelona on TV at home because I like how they play.”
Two months later, the Algerian told Goal: "It’s not my goal or my dream but obviously everyone wants to play with Messi. One day, maybe. Why not?”
Mahrez: Messi congratulated me for winning PFA award
So Mahrez must have been over the moon when he was able to have a quick chat with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner during the pre-season friendly earlier this month.
He revealed, per Catalan newspaper Sport, that Messi “congratulated me” for winning the PFA Player of the Year award.
Such praise from the man considered by some as the greatest footballer of all time must have made Mahrez feel 10-feet tall.
Leicester desperate to hold on to Mahrez
The Leicester winger’s future has been the subject of intense speculation this summer and Claudio Ranieri will be relieved when the transfer window finally closes.
While he scored from the penalty spot in Leicester’s Premier League opener against Hull City last weekend, his overall contribution during the 2-1 defeat left a lot to be desired.
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