PFA expects spike in security firm offers to Premier League players after Riyad Mahrez raid

Chris Bascombe
Riyad Mahrez - PA

The Professional Footballers’ Association expects more security firms to ­offer services to Premier League ­players after Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez joined the list of victims ­targeted by jewel thieves.

Mahrez’s Manchester city centre penthouse was raided with watches and jewellery reportedly worth £500,000 stolen. The midfielder was not at home at the time.

Two weeks ago Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli was at home with his girlfriend when thieves evaded security and broke into his London flat, ­attacking the 24-year-old before leaving with luxury items.

These incidents follow similar cases involving Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Crystal Palace’s Mamadou Sakho.

“In the past, criminal gangs tended to target houses when they knew players were out because they were playing a match,” said Bobby Barnes, the PFA’s deputy chief executive. “It is a concern that there seems to be impunity now, and these criminals are prepared to take their chances regardless of whether a property is occupied or not. That obviously increases the danger to players.

“A lot of players are using guard dogs or their own security guards at their home, and whenever incidents such as this happen we get a spike in the number of security companies who contact us offering their services.”

Last July, Arsenal duo Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac endured an attack by knife-wielding thieves in north London. A man was later jailed for 10 years for his role in the incident. The attackers were targeting luxury watches worth £200,000.

“Obviously it is not just footballers targeted, but they are in the public eye and perceived to be wealthy individuals,” Barnes said. “It is a sad indictment of society that these incidents keep happening.

“A lot of the players are aware of the need to have more security around them, and a lot of the clubs help with that. But the reality is players cannot live in a bubble. These situations tend to be a fact of life, unfortunately.”