Leicester use Sterling as benchmark to demand £45million fee for Mahrez
Leicester City are ready to demand more than £45million for Riyad Mahrez but are confident the PFA Player of the Year will not be following N'Golo Kante out of the exit door.
Mahrez would cost a huge fee as the Premier League champions believe his market value should be determined by the £49m that Manchester City paid for Raheem Sterling last summer.
Though Leicester are refusing to put a specific price tag on the Algeria international, they are convinced that Sterling's transfer fee from Liverpool should be used as a benchmark. The 25-year-old has been offered a new deal that could earn him up to £100,000 a week and Mahrez is yet to give any indications that he will not be re-signing. Leicester's stance is also hardened by the fact he has three years left on his deal and was one of last season's stand-out players, scoring 17 goals to help the club lift the title.
Leicester are stepping up contract talks with other key personnel, including manager Claudio Ranieri, England international Danny Drinkwater and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Ranieri will now be hoping that Mahrez follows the lead of Jamie Vardy, who has signed a new £100,000-a-week deal after rejecting the chance to join Arsenal.
The Leicester manager said: "It was huge. It gave a signal to all. He preferred to stay and should be thanked."
Leicester do appear set to lose head of recruitment Steve Walsh, however, despite rejecting an approach from Everton, who want him as their director of football. It is believed Walsh is keen to speak to Everton.
Leicester have turned down West Bromwich Albion's £8m bid for Jeff Schlupp.
Meanwhile, new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed winger Juan Cuadrado will return to the club after a season-long loan at Italian champions Juventus. The Colombian scored four goals in 28 league matches last season to help Juventus to a Serie A and Coppa Italia double.
The 28-year-old had made little impact in 15 Chelsea appearances since moving to Stamford Bridge from Fiorentina for an estimated £23m.
"Juan Cuadrado is a Chelsea player. I'm very happy to have him and train him," said Conte.