Riyad Mahrez came close to joining Arsenal three years ago (Picture: Getty Images)

Riyad Mahrez believes Leicester City cost him ‘two years at the highest level’ as he was blocked from joining Arsenal in 2016.

The Algerian was one of the stars of the Leicester side that caused a monumental shock to win the Premier League title in 2016.

However, he was keen to leave the Foxes after lifting the trophy, and says he was extremely close to making the switch to the Gunners in the weeks after the remarkable success.

His former employers stopped him making the move to north London and Mahrez is still bitter about having to wait until 2018 to join Manchester City and reach the ‘highest level.’

‘After the title, if I’d left for a top team, it wouldn’t have been the same story,’ Mahrez told France Football. ‘For me, it’s clear that I lost two years at the highest level. I lost two years! Because instead of arriving at City at 27, I could have been there at 24, 25.

‘Leicester blocked me. They told me: “You’re not leaving, you’re not leaving”.

Mahrez lifted the Premier League title with Leicester City in 2016 (Picture: Getty Images)

‘My agent had spoken to [Arsene] Wenger who really wanted me. It was nearly all done with Arsenal in 2016.

‘I was really frustrated. It wasn’t easy to go from being the best player in the Premier League to being a part of a team fighting against relegation. It’s not the same job. Everyone is waiting for you around the corner.’

The 28-year-old won the Premier League, FA Cup and EFL Cup with City in his first season at the club last campaign after making a £60m move from Leicester.

He has played regularly so far this season, making 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals in the process after netting 12 times last season.

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