Claudio Ranieri issues Riyad Mahrez threat

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has warned Riyad Mahrez he must ignore transfer speculation or face the bench.

The winger has been linked with moves away from the Foxes following his stunning season.

He has scored 16 goals with Leicester top of the Premier League by two points ahead of today’s visit of Norwich.

Jamie Vardy signed a new deal until 2019 this month while Mahrez agreed an extension until 2019 at the start of the season and Ranieri wants him to stay focused amid speculation he could move on in the summer.

“If Riyad plays well he continues to play. If he thinks about other teams he comes with me on the bench,” the Italian said.

“If I am Riyad I say: ‘There are a lot of teams who want me, OK, I have to show more if I want to go there. I have to show my best, because if I should do my best maybe they want to buy me’.

“We want to keep all our players. We believe in them. But if a player comes to me and says: ‘Boss, I want to go there because it’s my ambition to go there’. I’ll say: ‘Go and enjoy and have good luck’.

“Because I only want players who are happy to stay here, because sooner or later we grow up a lot. Of course, not like Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Leicester will be a very good team.”

But Ranieri admitted qualifying for the Champions League would make it easier to keep their stars.

“Of course it makes it easier. For this reason I said [the next] five matches are very important, it’s our key,” he added.

Norwich are one place above the relegation zone on goal difference and manager Alex Neil knows the remaining games are going to be difficult but he is pleased at how the players are reacting to the challenge.

He said: “The one thing we have had is that everyone is together, everyone is fighting for the same cause which when you are having a difficult season is really pleasing and a source of strength in the remaining games.”


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