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“I burst into tears” – Wife of former Manchester City star reveals impact of ’emotional’ Saudi Arabia transfer switch



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Former Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez’s summer transfer to the Saudi Pro League has been described as an “emotional rollercoaster” by his wife Taylor Ward.

The 32-year-old completed a £30 million exit from the Etihad Stadium during the summer transfer window, departing Manchester City for the Saudi Pro League alongside centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

Mahrez, who spent five years at Manchester City, was one of three senior exits following the treble-winning campaign, after Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Emirates FA Cup.

The Algerian international made 236 appearances, scored 78 goals and won 11 trophies during his time at City, having completed a £60 million move from Leicester City in 2018.

Mahrez signed for Al-Ahli in July, with the winger having been directly involved in 15 goals in 19 Saudi Pro League appearances so far this season.

The five-time Premier League winner had been linked with a potential exit from Manchester City throughout the summer window, despite the 32-year-old signing a two-year contract extension in 2022.

Ahead of the launch of a new Amazon Prime series ‘Married To The Game’, the wife of Riyad Mahrez has opened up about the shock move from Manchester to the Middle East.

Speaking with the Mail Sport, Taylor Ward said: “That whole week was just an emotional rollercoaster really. It was a huge shock and I had absolutely no idea.

“One day we were planning for Riyad to go back to pre-season with City and then overnight we were moving to Saudi and I was planning this whole move. 

“We were actually on holiday at the time and there was talk about the move. Riyad had a few years left on his contract at City and was really settled there.

“Every conversation was ‘we’re not going to move yet, it’s something we’ll consider in a few years’. I started hearing people from Saudi showing interest but never thought anything would come of it. 

“He flew home two days early to start pre-season so as far as I was concerned he was going back to Man City and that was it. One day he rang me while I was sat on the beach and said “we’re moving and I’m going tomorrow’, that’s it.

“He put me on the phone to one of the girls at the club and I burst into tears – I was like ‘I can’t believe this is happening’. It happened so quick, you don’t get a minute to say bye to everyone. One minute he was starting pre-season, the next he was saying goodbye.”

Mahrez signed a rumoured £750,000-per-week deal with Al-Ahli, with the forward contracted at the Saudi Pro League club until 2027.