Claudio Ranieri says Leicester City are having a “strange year” because of other teams’ struggles but can continue to challenge for the Europa League in future seasons.
Leicester are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after last weekend’s 3-1 win at Manchester City – and have the chance to send out another big message when they go to Arsenal on Sunday.
Ranieri acknowledges the Foxes have been helped by the failure of the traditional title challengers to find their best form, but the Italian believes his side can achieve plenty more success in the coming years.
“When I signed, our objective was clear – to build this team, gradually bringing it to the top spots,” Ranieri told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
“We know we’re having a strange year, we’re doing well because the big teams haven’t found their rhythm, but our plans won’t change next year beyond what happens at the end of this season.
“We must continue to build to target, in the next three or four years, the top spots in the Premier League and fighting for the Europa League.
“If we do all this in advance in one year we mustn’t applaud ourselves, next year we’ll start again from scratch.”
Ranieri praise for key Leicester trio
Ranieri was also asked about the impressive campaigns of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, while the 64-year-old reserved praise for Kasper Schmeichel, too.
“This year Mahrez has given us incredible magic,” Ranieri said.
“Technically I don’t know who he resembles, he has immense quality and is our reference point: when we need to create, we give the ball to him.
“Vardy on the other hand has a unique characteristic, he runs at 1,000 miles an hour and always at the same speed.
“Schmeichel has a big personality, he gives security to the team,” Ranieri added.
“He has incredible feet, he plays the ball 50 metres as if he was a trequartista (playmaker).
“Because of this the defenders play the ball to him too, knowing they can trust him with the ball as if he was a normal player.”