Claudio Ranieri urges Riyad Mahrez to stay at Leicester
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 26/07/16 11:03am
Claudio Ranieri says Riyad Mahrez risks ending up on the bench if he decides to leave Leicester this summer.
On Saturday, reports in France claimed the Algeria winger had agreed to leave the Foxes and join Premier League rivals Arsenal ahead of the new season.
Mahrez was named the 2015/16 PFA Player of the Year after playing a pivotal role in Leicester's remarkable rise from relegation candidates to Premier League champions last season.
Leicester and England forward Jamie Vardy turned down the chance to join Arsenal in June, deciding to sign a new four-year deal at the King Power Stadium instead.
And Ranieri has urged Mahrez, who scored a stunning goal in Leicester's 1-1 International Champions Cup draw with Celtic at Celtic Park on Saturday evening, to follow Vardy's lead by staying at the club as he plots their title defence.
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"Did you see how Riyad is happy? He played so well, worked so hard for the team, he scored a goal and he stays with us," Ranieri said.
"It is very important [to keep him] he is one of our stars.
"Other teams maybe have more stars and maybe he doesn't play at the same level, because maybe is on the bench so it is much better he stays with me."
When asked if he was confident Mahrez would stay at Leicester, Ranieri told Sky Sports: "I am always confident. Of course, we know that there are other teams that want to win the Premier League."
New signings Ron-Robert Zieler, Luis Hernandez, Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa featured for Leicester against the Scottish Premiership champions, and Ranieri praised the quartet for settling into the squad quickly.
"I am very happy. We have a very good dressing room, the players who have come in are good, there is a very good harmony and for us that was the first important thing," he added.
"I am very happy today. We were concentrated and compact. Now we play two different sides in PSG and Barcelona.
"The players came back in good condition. We are getting better. Celtic's fitness is ahead of ours. It was a good challenge.
"We have a long journey to Los Angeles now, but the experience of playing in these fantastic matches is important.
"Our fans were fantastic. So many of them travelled a long way to Glasgow so I say thank you to them."