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Football Is About Achieving Dreams, And Riyad Mahrez Should Continue to Chase His

11/03/2016 16:21 GMT | Updated 12/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Football means many things to many people. It's pure business to a man like ​Charlie Stillitano, who just last week suggested that the UEFA Champions League was no place for a club like Leicester City.

But to the people who matter; the supporters of this game, football - and their team - means life itself. Some will follow the fortunes of their chosen side across a country, far and wide, regardless of cost. Regardless of results. It's the game's duty to give something back, and things look to be moving in the right direction following ​Wednesday's ticket pricing announcement.

For others, football is entertainment. But for the players who take the field week after week - no matter the standard - it's a vehicle for them to achieve things they've dreamt of since childhood. Football is about fairytales, unrivalled joy, and making dreams come true.

There's no greater footballing fairytale at the moment than in Leicester. They've nine games to seal the most unlikely of Premier League title victories, comprised by a team of big-club cast-offs like Robert Huth, ex non-league players of Jamie Vardy's ilk, and once barely-known men from the French league pyramid; such as N'Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez.

It's the latter who has stolen the hearts of supporters across the world, irrelevant of their club affiliation. Everybody loves a footballer who plays with a smile - that was a big part of Ronaldinho's charm - and Mahrez falls into that category.

It's an attitude he's tried to hold onto through his rise to the top: "My whole way of thinking about football is that it should be all about fun. I still hold onto this carefree attitude," he told ​NewsOuest in 2013. He's done a successful job in that regard, and if he and his side can maintain form until May, there'll be a plethora of other reasons to show the pearly whites.

Mahrez - along with Vardy - have been big reasons why Leicester have earned the plaudits throughout the campaign. It's a team effort of course, but it's natural for the goal-scorers to get the limelight. Goals win games.

Vardy leads the scoring charts at the moment with 19, while Mahrez isn't too far behind on 15 (plus his 11 assists), and the two are the clear front-runners to add the PFA Player of the Year award to the possible Premier League winners' medal. Inevitably though, the form and attention that comes with it means other clubs will take notice.

For a club like Leicester, that's ominous. We've seen down the years how teams rising from beneath find their players picked off in the wake of success - Wimbledon after 1988's FA Cup Final is a distant example - and the Foxes find themselves in a battle to avoid a similar fate.

It's made more difficult in the case of Mahrez when reflecting on comments in interviews. He's made no secret of his love for European champions Barcelona, stating to MOTD Magazine earlier this year how he's yearned to play at their iconic Camp Nou since childhood. He said: "I used to dream of playing in the Nou Camp when I was younger so it'd be amazing, if we finish in the top four, to play there in the Champions League next season."

It's realistic enough given Leicester continue to strengthen their grip on a Champions League qualification place for next season, but recent reports claim the Catalonian outfit want to sign him. Whether it proves true or not, they provide a lure like no other.

His manager, Claudio Ranieri, will not stand in his way. If the deal comes along and it's right for Leicester City , the decision lays in the 25-year-old's lap: "We want to keep all our players. We believe in them. But if a player comes to me and says: 'Boss, I want to go there because it's my ambition to go there'. I'll say: 'Go and enjoy and have good luck'."

Perhaps it's not the right move for him. In all likelihood, a potential Mahrez switch to Barcelona would mean he sits on the bench for far longer than he plays on the pitch. There may be other clubs out there willing to pay this money who'd give him a stronger chance of continuing to perform his on-field magic.

But Leicester will teach us this season - if they go on to complete the job - that dreams, no matter how unlikely, can come true. And whether it's the popular decision or not, Claudio Ranieri and the club are absolutely correct to not stand in the player's way if he decides to move on.

This sport is all about achieving dreams, and Riyad Mahrez has earned the right to continue chasing his.

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