Arsene Wenger had reportedly made contact with Mahrez in the event that a deal for Monaco star Lemar could not be reached, with the former PFA Player of the Year seen as the ideal back-up option.
But Sky Sport Italia claim Roma have made Mahrez their top target and are pushing ahead with a deal, tabling an offer in the region of £30 million.
Sporting director Monchi has been forced to search for a new winger to replace Mohamed Salah, who completed a move to Liverpool at the end of June, though missed the Reds’ first pre-season friendly as he is still awaiting a work permit.
Incredibly, Leicester are holding out for £50m for Mahrez, a fee in excess of the figure Arsenal were hoping to snap up Lemar for.
Roma’s swoop gives Wenger a major dilemma, either continue to pursue a deal for Lemar despite Monaco insistence that he will not be sold and miss out on Mahrez, or switch targets before Roma snap him up.
Mahrez had a relatively subdued campaign last season as Leicester put up a meek defence of their title, scoring just six goals and assisting a further three.
Riyad Mahrez's Premier League season Games played36Goals scored6Assists3
But he was in sparkling form the year previous, scoring 17 goals in the Premier League and providing another 11 assists as he was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
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Mahrez has started pre-season training with Leicester though is eager to leave, and will happily join Roma even though his first choice would be to move to north London with Arsenal.