Claudio Ranieri keeps pressure off Jamie Vardy ahead of crunch clash

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri thinks comparisons between Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero are unfair as the two strikers go head-to-head in the top-of-table clash at Manchester City.

Vardy’s exploits in front of goal this season — he has 18 Premier League goals — have been pivotal to Leicester’s surprise title challenge and the 29-year-old is in talks about a new improved contract to keep him at the King Power Stadium until 2019. His existing deal expires in 2018.

He heads to the Etihad Stadium top of the scoring charts, a position Aguero has often occupied since his arrival in England from Atletico Madrid four and a half years ago.

Ranieri said: “Sergio Aguero, every year. Jamie just one. I hope he does it next season, next season, next season for us.

“Jamie is playing very well and he links very well with his team-mates but he must improve.”

Asked if there was any progress with Vardy’s new contract, the Italian said: “I don’t ask. He trains well every day and this is okay.

“This is normal, the strikers in every team earn more.” Both Vardy and Aguero were on target again in midweek as Leicester maintained their three-point cushion over City at the Premier League summit.

Vardy’s two goals against Liverpool, the first a stunning 35-yard volley from the right side of the penalty area, gave Leicester successive wins for the first time since the week before Christmas, while Aguero netted in a 1-0 victory at Sunderland.

Ranieri reckons Vardy’s opener ranks alongside Marco van Basten’s stunning volley for Holland against USSR in the 1988 European Championship final.

He said: “It’s incredible what Vardy did. He watched the ball, watched the opponent and watched the keeper. It’s amazing, fantastic.

“I can put him with Van Basten when he makes a fantastic goal. I don’t know if you watched (Francesco) Totti when he scored against Sampdoria (in 2006). They are amazing goals.”

Tomorrow’s clash at the Etihad Stadium sees the team with the best home record take on the team with the best away record and Ranieri, who could have recent signing Daniel Amartey available for the first time against City, is expecting an open game.

“Both teams want to win,” he said. “They have to win, we have to win and enjoy. It is two different tasks. But I think it will be (an open match).”

City captain Vincent Kompany has stepped up his comeback from injury after returning to training with the rest of the squad.

The influential Belgium defender has been hampered by all-too-familiar calf problems this season and has not featured since an abortive comeback attempt against Sunderland on St Stephen’s Day.

Kompany managed just nine minutes in that 4-1 Barclays Premier League victory at the Etihad Stadium — his only action in City’s last 19 matches.

Pellegrini is likely to give an update as he holds a press conference today.

That will come just four days after Pellegrini revealed he will be leaving City at the end of the season and the club announced he will be replaced by the highly-coveted Pep Guardiola.

That dramatic development points to an exciting future for the club but there is still much to look forward to this season with Pellegrini’s men still in contention in four competitions.

The club are hoping the early announcement of the changes will galvanise the side as they bid to wrap up this season in glorious fashion.

Football administration officer Brian Marwood told Sky Sports News: “We are focusing on supporting Manuel and the team for the remainder of the season.

“We have a lot of high-profile games coming up and they come thick and fast in all competitions.

“It is an exciting time also for the club and we want to focus on the now and we will leave the later for some time else.”


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