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Mahrez: Arteta's Arsenal departure emotional for Man City

The squad waved farewell to ‘an important member of staff’.

MANCHESTER CITY’S RIYAD Mahrez says it was emotional for Pep Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta to leave the club to take over at Arsenal.

Arteta, who was linked with the Gunners vacancy in 2018, was appointed as Unai Emery’s successor yesterday.

The ex-Arsenal captain played a key role in City winning two consecutive Premier League titles and takes a head coach role for the first time in his career.

City were without Arteta for the first time in Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Leicester City that boosted their slim Premier League title hopes and Mahrez indicated the 37-year-old will be missed.

“Mikel was an important member of staff,” Mahrez said to Sky Sports. 

“So, it was a bit emotional for him to go but he had to take his chance and we are happy for him.”

Mahrez’s deflected strike against his former club cancelled out Jamie Vardy’s excellent opener at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty and Gabriel Jesus then struck to complete the comeback and move City within a point of second-placed Leicester.

Kevin De Bruyne put in a man-of-the-match performance, despite failing to make it on the scoresheet, and the Belgium international was keen to praise Mahrez for the relationship they have struck-up on the field since his arrival at the club 18 months ago.

“We have already played a lot of times together, especially this season we have played really well together,” said De Bruyne. “Last season was difficult because I spent a lot of time out and couldn’t find my rhythm.

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“But I think the moments we played together we did well, we know how to find each other and I know I can leave him one against one because he is one of the most dangerous wingers in the league – that’s how he scored today.”

Though the win moved Man City to within a point of Leicester they are still 11 points behind leaders Liverpool, who have played a game less than both clubs.

Arteta, meanwhile, watched his new side draw 0-0 against Everton from the stands at Goodison Park. The Spaniard’s first game in charge will be against Bournemouth.

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