No player's place is safe, warns Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri
Published 09/09/2016 | 22:41
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has warned his title winners he is prepared to drop them.
The Foxes chief is even ready to leave out last season's 24-goal top scorer Jamie Vardy if the striker fails to perform in the wake of Islam Slimani's record £28million arrival.
The defending Premier League champions go to Liverpool on Saturday with Ranieri happy to include Slimani despite the striker having only linked up with his new club on Friday after he joined from Sporting Lisbon.
Ranieri also refused to rule out dropping last season's stars Danny Drinkwater, Riyad Mahrez and Kasper Schmeichel who helped win the title by 10 points.
He said: "Of course there is not a hierarchy - it's not (a case that) somebody who played last season is assured to play this season.
"I watch every training session, I watch every match and if someone I see is better, then I'll change. Nobody is sure of their shirt to play at the beginning. Everybody has to stay at the highest level and when I see them down I have a player to replace them.
"That is important. If at the end of December we continue in the Champions League or go on in the (EFL) Cup and there is somebody not happy I can believe it and I can help him. But as long as we're together we have to be happy.
"At the end it is not the first XI who won the title, all the players won the title, all the players are champions of the Premier League, I don't remember who played 38 games or one. For me it was a group who won the title."
Slimani broke Leicester's transfer record for a second time this summer after they paid CSKA Moscow £16million for Ahmed Musa to take the Foxes' spending to over £50million since they won the league.
He scored 27 goals in 33 games in the Primeira Liga last season and Ranieri knows Leicester's pulling power is greater with a title under their belt and Champions League football, ahead of their debut at Club Brugge on Wednesday.
"Yes of course," he said.
"Until now we had to find just the players with a not high target, but a big future. Now we can also buy some players who are 26, 27, who are more solid players and can help us. Now we are champions, we play in the Champions League. Maybe last season some players didn't want to come, or didn't choose Leicester, now they can choose Leicester. It is a big step what we did."