Jamie Vardy is not Leicester City’s best player

Photo Credit: Pioeb, Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Pioeb, Wikimedia Commons /

Jamie Vardy has had a terrific player for Leicester City this year, but winger Riyad Mahrez is their best player

Riyad Mahrez is clearly Leicester’s best player. Jamie Vardy has been awesome on the season and deserves the attention he’s received, but the fact that Mahrez isn’t receiving anywhere near the same attention is ridiculous.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only writer beating the Mahrez drum. When you watch Leicester play on a regular basis, it’s impossible not to come away with the knowledge that he’s the team’s best player. Most journalists and Premier League fans must only be judging the pair on the goals they read about.

Even when you judge the two based on their statistic it’s an easy call in favor of Mahrez. Vardy does have 14 goals to lead the team, but Mahrez isn’t far behind after his treble against Swansea with 10. The key difference between the two is that Mahrez is a far superior creator than Vardy. He has six assists on the campaign compared to Vardy’s two. The statistical difference between the two goes deeper than just goals and assists though.

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Examination of the two players’ Whoscored.com ratings reveal that Mahrez enjoys an advantage of half a point over Vardy (8.33 to 7.82). This isn’t a small gap. In fact, Mahrez boasts the highest score of any player in the Premier League through 15 matches.

Vardy’s consecutive goal scoring streak has clouded the football world’s evaluation of the two players in relation to one another. It should be widely accepted that Mahrez is the team’s talisman, but the narrative continues to focus on Vardy. It’s fair to question whether or not Vardy would have anything close to his current goal total if Mahrez wasn’t there to help him along.

Of course, we can’t penalize Vardy for taking advantage of Mahrez’s presence on the pitch. It’s exactly what a quality striker is supposed to do. We don’t downgrade Aguero’s accomplishments because of the talented attackers he plays with at Manchester City. Still, it’s a factor that we have to consider when we’re evaluating which Leicester star is the better player.

In the long run, I wonder if the immense spotlight on Vardy is going to come back to haunt Leicester. The English media constantly churns out stories, podcasts and television features focused on the question of whether or not Vardy will find a bigger club, but you don’t read nearly as much about his Algerian teammate.

It would be easy to see Mahrez interpreting this as being underappreciated and seeking his own move away to a club that could pay him more money and give him more of the spotlight.

Leicester has been the Premier League’s best story on the year and Jamie Vardy has been their fairytale hero. However, as often is the case when comparing fairytales to real life the true hero is someone different. The Foxes’ chief hero on the season hasn’t been the former non-league star but the dynamic winger, Riyad Mahrez.