Riyad Mahrez is old news.
Sure he’s PFA Player of the Year-elect and nailed on Ballon d’Or 2016 winner, but our attention spans have been decimated by auto-playing skills videos and the interminable evening Instagram scroll.
So, in other words, we’re bored.
We need a new icon.
Our very culture demands it.
Luckily, he’s right here in front of our very eyes. His name is Farid Boulaya and, quite frankly, the similarities between him and Mahrez are just eerie.
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1 He’s another one of those French-Algerians
Just like Mahrez and that Zinedine Zidane bloke. His parents upped sticks to the south of France from near the Algerian capital Algiers.
2 Who was born in the suburb of a French city
For Mahrez it was Sarcelles in Paris, for Boulaya it was Vitrolles in Aix-en-Provence (above).
3 He’s an attacking midfielder who can do a job on either flank
The French press have bigged up his elegance on the ball and his ability to run ‘like a dream’.
4 And has a bit of a knack for goals
Six so far this season, along with three assists. Prett-y good.
5 He made his professional debut at an unfashionable French club
Istres, way down in French nether regions just like Mahrez’s Quimper.
6 But is currently doing his thing in Ligue 2
Which is exactly where Mahrez was, with Le Havre, when Leicester came a-calling. Farid is on the books at Clermont, currently in fifth place in the table, one point behind Mahrez’s old club.
7 Obviously the Ligue 1 vultures are circling
Bastia and Lorient have made enquiries, and Lyon are reportedly interested. Mahrez famously turned down PSG and Marseille. Will Farid follow suit?
8 He’s a bit of a shy one
Like Mahrez, he’s softly-spoken, introverted, and not the sort to blow his own trumpet.
9 And a wiry little fella
Despite being 5ft 11ins, Boulaya weighs in at just 10 stones and has told reporters he needs to bulk up to improve his game.
10 He doesn’t much care who the coach is
Mahrez loved Big Nige but fell straight into Claudio Ranieri’s arms when he came in. Boulaya is similarly pragmatic and has taken to working with Corinne Diacre, the first women’s coach in French men’s football, like a duck to water.
11 All he really wants is to train harder, get better
Read his interviews and he doesn’t talk about fast cars, big deals or moves abroad. All he wants is to improve his tekkers.
“I have to be even more effective in terms of statistics,” he says. “I have to score more and be more invested in the defensive work.”