Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester City manager, is confident Riyad Mahrez will stay with the Premier League champions, insisting the Algeria star is not the kind of player to demand a transfer.
Mahrez has been linked with a host of European giants this summer, ranging from Spanish champions Barcelona to Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, but the East Midlands club are adamant he will not leave before the new season gets underway.
Ranieri was speaking at Leicester’s picturesque Austrian pre-season camp in Stegersbach, Graz, as speculation mounts that another of his title-winning heroes, N’Golo Kanté, is destined to join five-time English champions Chelsea.
But the Italian, who has already completed four first-team signings of his own this summer, told the Leicester Mercury: “I am very confident with [Mahrez]. He stays. He wants to stay here with us. He enjoys it, he is laughing. He is not a man who says ‘oh coach, I want to go.’ No, he is happy.”
Quizzed on the suggestion that Kanté could be set to leave, Ranieri addressed the matter directly, insisting he doesn’t want to keep a player against his will but expressed a desire to do anything he could to keep hold of the France international.
“We offered Kanté a new deal before he went to the Europe Cup [Euro 2016],” Ranieri added. “Now I know there are a lot of big teams interested. It’s in his hands.”
The Foxes will return to England this weekend before starting their pre-season friendly schedule with a clash against newly-promoted League One outfit Oxford United on Tuesday night.
New signings Ahmed Musa, Nampalys Mendy, Ron-Robert Zieler and Luis Hernandez are all in contention to make their debuts.
Ranieri’s troupe then face Celtic on Saturday in the first of three lucrative matches in the International Champions Cup, where they will later lace PSG and Barcelona in Los Angeles and Stockholm respectively.