Riyad Mahrez to Arsenal: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers backs 'happy' Riyad Mahrez to stay at Leicester City

25 Jul

Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, has backed Riyad Mahrez to reject Arsenal after witnessing the Algerian’s talents first-hand during a friendly defeat on penalties by Leicester City on Saturday.

Mahrez scored a sumptuous strike to give Leicester the lead just after half-time in the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament clash at Celtic Park before Eoghan O’Connell’s 58th minute equaliser took the tie to penalties.

Daniel Amartey scored the decisive spot-kick for the English champions following James Forrest’s earlier miss, from the hosts’ sixth penalty, but reports linking Mahrez with a £40m switch to the Emirates overshadowed proceedings in Glasgow.

“He looks happy,” Rodgers said at full-time. “If he is playing well and working well, I wouldn’t say there is a need for him to move.”

The former Liverpool manager also confirmed that defender Kolo Toure is set to join Celtic but will not feature in the Champions League qualifier against Kazakhstani outfit Astana on Wednesday.

Claudio Ranieri, meanwhile, reiterated his stance that Mahrez would not be sold whatever the price after losing midfielder N’Golo Kante to Premier League rivals Chelsea for £30m a week ago.

The Italian said: “It is good because you can continue to write, write, write. It is good for you but not for us. Did you see Riyad, how he is happy? He played well and worked so hard for the team and scored a good goal. Then he stays with us. Of course.

“For us it is very important because he is one of our stars. He is our fantasy. We can work hard but with him something change.”

Mahrez will join his Leicester team-mates for the trip to Los Angeles where they will face Paris-Saint Germain this weekend before flying to Stockholm to take on Spanish champions Barcelona the following Wednesday.

Despite Mahrez continuing to put himself in the shop window with displays such as the one at Celtic, Ranieri is relaxed about his chances of keeping hold of the PFA Player of the Year.

“With another team there are many more stars and maybe he doesn’t play at the same level. Maybe he go on the bench. It is much better he stay here with me and another year is important for him.

“Maybe now [his value is £40m] and maybe tomorrow another newspaper says £100m. Keep going! Mahrez is okay with us. He understands that someone loves to put some speculation but it is only speculation.”


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