Claudio Ranieri wants to keep N’Golo Kante at Leicester City but admits the midfielder could leave if a bigger club offers a lot of money.
Kante hinted while on international duty with France he was flattered about being linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium after a stellar season.
He made his debut for France against Russia on Tuesday, scoring the opener in a 4-2 victory, on his 25th birthday.
Ranieri has always conceded he will not keep unhappy players, and while he hopes to keep Kante he would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave.
“I think he should rest here. He is working very well. But if some big teams arrive who give us a lot of big money, maybe we can think about it,” Ranieri said.
“If he is not happy here and wants to go. I don’t want sad people here. I want happy people.
“He is always smiling. It is speculation and now our focus is on the pitch. After is another season.”
Kante, who joined from Caen last summer, had previously said: “I will fight for Leicester this season, next season we never know and we will see.
“At this moment I am focused on Leicester. We have to finish well this season but I don’t mind about (being linked with) the other clubs.”
Meanwhile, the Foxes are close to agreeing new deals with Ranieri’s assistants Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh, who is also head of recruitment.
The pair have been discussing fresh terms for a number of weeks and are set to commit their future to the club.
Ranieri added: “I think they are very close. I don’t know if they are already signed or are signing in the next few days. I’ve spoken so many times of how they are important for us.
“If it wasn’t important he (Shakespeare) doesn’t stay with me. It is very important. For this reason I asked him to stay here and for the club to maintain the normal situation here.”
Leicester are five points clear at the top and welcome the Saints on Sunday with Jeff Schlupp a doubt with a knee problem but fans will get a doughnut and drink with chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha celebrating his birthday on Monday.
Ranieri added: “Yes, it’s his birthday and he wants to offer some beer and something more. It’s fantastic.”