Sport Soccer

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Leicester confident Riyad Mahrez will stay after Premier League title triumph

Published 05/05/2016 | 22:51

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, centre, on the training pitch with his players after winning the Premier League
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, centre, on the training pitch with his players after winning the Premier League

Leicester's vice-chairman has revealed Riyad Mahrez has told him he wants to stay at the champions.

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The Algeria international's agent had claimed it was only 50-50 the PFA player of the year would remain at the Barclays Premier League winners, but vice-chair Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha has dismissed any fears.

Mahrez signed a new four-year deal in 2015 but has been linked with a move away, with Barcelona reportedly interested, after scoring 18 times to help fire the Foxes to an improbable title.

They will receive the trophy after Saturday's final home game of the season against Everton and Aiyawatt, known as Top, expects to keep Mahrez this summer.

"Yes. I think now I want the players to enjoy this moment and not be concerned about the contracts," he said.

"They are good boys. They are good lads. They understand. Even Mahrez, I talked to him and said, 'Are you concerned?'.

"He said, 'No, no, I want to stay'. This is what he wants. He wants to stay."

Top knows fans fear they could lose their prized assets with N'Golo Kante also in demand, but he insisted Leicester do not intend to sell their stars.

"I understand that. I can't say 'he will stay' because at the end of the day it depends on the players and the clubs who want them, but we have no policy to sell the players and we don't have a problem with money," he said.

"Next year we are going to play in the Champions League. They can see how good the fans are here and they can see how many players moved and failed.

"All the players understand but it depends on them and us."

And boss Claudio Ranieiri is also confident the Foxes will be able to keep Mahrez.

"It's 99 per cent he will stay," Ranieri said. " I'm 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'."

Ranieri gave the players an extra day off this week but insisted he expects total professionalism on Saturday and warned them there will be consequences if not.

"I kill them, with my bare hands," he joked. "It is important to clean our minds and keep going with our jobs. This is very sweet but our job is to play.

"Of course there will be a good match for us, now we are champions, but Everton want to beat us so it is right to put our mind on the job. I've watched how they train and it was good."

The city has been celebrating since winning the title on Monday, following Tottenham's 2-2 draw at Chelsea that left Leicester seven points clear with two games left.

And Ranieri admitted he wants to sneak into the city and see the party.

"I'd like to go around the city with black glasses to watch what is happening - it's amazing," he added.

"It's difficult to give a message to these fantastic people. They were dreaming, I say 'dilly ding, dilly dong', they wake up and the dream is a reality. I can only say thank you with all my heart at home, away, everywhere to push behind us."

Press Association

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