Ranieri still ‘confident’ of keeping Arsenal target Mahrez

Mark Scott
Riyad Mahrez: Falling from Leicester's grasp?

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has said he is still optimistic of keeping star man Riyad Mahrez despite strong links to Arsenal.

The Italian has had mixed fortunes in keeping his best performers after Leicester’s incredible title run last season. Record-breaker Jamie Vardy decided to stay with the Foxes, but N’Golo Kante opted to join Antonio Conte at Chelsea.

Now Ranieri’s next challenge is to keep hold of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and, despite strong reports of Arsenal agreeing a £42million move for the Algerian, he is hopeful of a positive outcome for the Premier League champions.

“I’m confident, of course,” Ranieri said after the Celtic match, when questioned about whether Mahrez would stay with the Foxes.

“We know very well there are other teams who must win the Premier League. We just have to defend it.”

Ranieri also played down suggestions that Mahrez’s substitution at Celtic was something other than the fact that he was tired.

He added: “I changed him at last because I said ‘okay, his job is done, it’s better to avoid injury’.”