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Thursday 22 March 2018

Claudio Ranieri: Aliens will land in London before Leicester defend the title

Claudio Ranieri's Leicester won the Premier League title by 10 points last season
Claudio Ranieri's Leicester won the Premier League title by 10 points last season

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes it is more likely that aliens will land in London than that the Foxes will defend their Premier League title.

The Italian expects Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City to mount strong challenges after they all faltered last season.

Leicester go to Hull on Saturday to start the defence of the shock league crown they won last season, by a runaway 10 points, after they were 5,000-1 to win it at the beginning of the campaign.

But Ranieri, who signed a new contract until 2020 on Wednesday, has already dismissed their chances of retaining the title and believes extraterrestrials arriving in the capital is more likely.

"It's easier for ET to come to Piccadilly Circus," he said. " I work to be safe and continue to build a team, anything more that happens is fantastic.

"It is normal that we can't win the league. For this reason I say the bookmakers must do 6,000-1.

"It is impossible. It is more difficult than last season.

"Of course they (Leicester's title rivals) are stronger because they can't make a mistake another year.

"They lost one season and in the life of those big teams that can happen but, altogether, it only happens once in lifetime.

"I am very curious, all the world is curious, what will happen with Leicester. I am very curious to see where we finish.

"Of course the big teams are ready to fight for the title, we are ready to defend our title but we know it is a difficult gap, last season we made something unbelievable.

"But now the big teams will come back, I am sure."

Ranieri has a fully fit squad ahead of the trip to the KC Stadium and reiterated his belief that last season's PFA player of the year Riyad Mahrez is available for selection and will stay with the Foxes despite being continually linked with a move to Arsenal.

"I don't know, who is interested? Tell me if there is one," he said.

"Riyad will stay with us. I say: 'Hey keep going, we have to improve, also you have to improve your experience in the Champions League, it's totally different'.

"Football is different from the Premier League. It is important to be focused in your job."

Ranieri expects Mahrez, 25, to carry last season's form into the new campaign and avoid becoming distracted by transfer speculation.

"He is in good condition," the Leicester boss said. "Maybe we have to pass the ball a little more often to him. He is the winger and if no one passes to the wingers, I can pass the ball from the bench.

"He is in good form, believe me. In the training sessions he is the same. During the match you can play well or not but it's important to watch during the training session and he is very good.

"It's not a problem. When there is all this attention around your name it's because you are doing well.

"The speculation is normal. He is a big player and he needs to feel there are other teams and managers who want him."

Ranieri also joked that he will not let Mahrez, who scored 18 goals last season, leave.

He added: "Never has Riyad come to me and said: 'Coach, I want to go' because I'll kill him before he tells me this! He's a lucky man."

Press Association

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