Ranieri asks stars for ‘one year more’

6 May

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I don’t want big names at Leicester – Ranieri

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has asked his Premier League title winners to “stay one year more”.

The Foxes completed one of sport’s greatest shocks when they won the league with a squad costing £57m.

Winger Riyad Mahrez, striker Jamie Vardy and midfielder N’Golo Kante are among the previously unheralded players to be linked with moves away.

“I’m very, very confident,” Ranieri said. “Don’t go. If you go another team, you might not get on the pitch.”

The Italian, who only replaced Nigel Pearson as manager last summer, was given a standing ovation by journalists as he came into his news conference for Saturday’s home game with Everton.

“From the beginning I felt something special,” he said. “Never could I imagine this, but it’s good. We work so hard.”

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The best bits from Claudio Ranieri’s post-title news conference

He laughed off suggestions that he could quit on a high this summer, and added he will not be signing global stars for next season’s Champions League campaign.

“I don’t want big names here. My lads are special. We have to bring some good players but they must have the same spirit.”

Algeria forward Mahrez, 25, won the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award after scoring 17 goals and 11 assists.

However, his agent Kamel Bengougam says it is “50/50 at the moment whether he stays or goes”. He added: “We have interest from the UK and overseas.”

But Ranieri said: “It’s 99% he will stay. I am very, very confident. I suggest to all my players, stay one year more. Don’t go. If you go (to) another team, you might not get on the pitch.”

The club’s vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha also dismissed suggestions Mahrez will leave.

“I talked to Mahrez and said, ‘Are you concerned?’ He said, ‘No, no, I want to stay’. This is what he wants. He wants to stay,” said Srivaddhanaprabha.

Champagne<!–

Leicester put champagne on for journalists before the news conference

Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who takes his side to Leicester on Saturday at 17:30 BST, thinks a shock winner of the Premier League is likely to be a one-off.

“What Leicester have achieved is a great inspiration for any team sport and for any group in order to dream high and have huge expectations but I think we need to be realistic that this is not the norm.

“It’s something we haven’t seen in the modern game and I don’t think that’s going to be repeated easily.”

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew, whose side face Manchester United in the FA Cup final, said: “Leicester won it after 36 games. Last year for 10 games they were in the best form. For nearly 50 games they’ve been best in the country.

“It’s proof the underdog can do it. And it will give us a boost for the cup final.

“Leicester have shattered the glass ceiling, and I thought it was impossible to break. They’ve gone and done it. Amazing.

“Football isn’t all logic. It’s almost like some stardust has fallen on Leicester – great for them. Let’s hope it falls on us for the final.”

Clough Derby League Win<!–

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Six unlikely top-flight titles

Opera star joins the party

Opera star Andrea Bocelli will perform at King Power Stadium before Saturday’s game.

Ranieri revealed the 57-year-old – who has sold more than 80 million records – called him and offered to perform two months ago.

“He was so happy about what we were doing in Leicester. He said: ‘I would like to come and sing something’. I said: ‘Great, why not?’,” said Ranieri.

“I gave all the information to the club and they made all the arrangements. It is great for all the community.”

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