Pep Guardiola will continue to push Riyad Mahrez for more as Manchester City approach the business end of the season.

Mahrez is enjoying an outstanding campaign having scored 21 times to fire City’s challenge in three competitions.

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That is the Algerian’s best goal return since he joined the club in 2018 – his previous best was last season’s 14 – but Guardiola is not satisfied yet.

The City manager said: “He has scored a lot of goals, penalties, assists and everything and a part of that is the quality he has to read the game perfectly. When he has to attack he must give extra passes.

“But I would not say it is his best season because he has played in the Premier League at a high level for many years.

“Last season he was exceptional. He was so important in the last quarter of the season and playing really well.

“I try to push him a lot. We struggle together because I know the quality that he has.”

Guardiola wants that quality on display as City bid to secure their fourth Premier League title in five seasons, as well as claim the Champions League and FA Cup.

He has no doubt the 31-year-old belongs among the elite and, with contract renewals coming up, he has made that point to him.

Mahrez has one season remaining on the five-year contract he signed after his then club record £60million move from Leicester in 2018.

“He is a player that I admire for the way he handles the pressure,” Guardiola said. “He likes to play on the biggest stages and it is difficult to find players like that in top clubs.

“Not just me, but the whole club has an incredibly high opinion about him and his quality.

“He’s an exceptional player. He’s a player that many teams would like to have. He knows my opinion.”

Mahrez himself is pleased with how his season has gone but accepts he still has more to offer.

He said: “I always think I need to add things to my game. Pep worked with me a lot as well to do this, to improve more in my runs, to be more in the box and to be where you can score goals.

“That is what we must try to do. When you play and the team is playing good and you are playing your part, it is the best you can do for yourself and the club.

“I am trying to work hard to help the team and if you can be part of all of the games then it is better.

“Of course, there is a lot of satisfaction because everything you do in the week, and all the years you are working, it is to try to do what I am doing at the moment which is scoring goals, making assists and trying to perform good to help the team.

“On top of that the team is playing so good and everyone is performing so it is the best.”

City have a chance to restore a six-point advantage over Liverpool at the top of the table as they travel to Crystal Palace on Monday.

“We just do it game by game,” said Mahrez. “That is the best thing we can do. We just have to play.

“We have to play Palace first and try to give everything to try to win.”

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