Football

Ranieri: Riyad could go from star to sub

Leicester boss warns star man about move away

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri warned star attacker Riyad Mahrez that he could end up a bench-warmer if he leaves the Premier League champions.

The Algerian attacker scored a wonderful individual goal in the 46th minute of the Foxes 1-1 International Champions Cup friendly draw with Celtic in Glasgow yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 25-year-old picked up the ball on the right wing, drove into the penalty box and evaded the attentions of two Celtic players before curling the ball past goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Leicester eventually won the tie 6-5 on penalties.

After the match, Ranieri told Sky Sports: "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.

"It is very important (to keep him as) he is one of our stars.

"Other teams maybe have more stars and maybe he doesn't play at the same level, because maybe he is on the bench. So it is much better he stays with me."

When asked if he was confident of keeping Mahrez, the Italian replied: "I am always confident...

"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 main important thing."

SPECULATION

Ranieri would like to keep Mahrez in that dressing room, but reports in France suggest that the winger is close to signing for Arsenal.

His agent Kamel Bengougam was at the Gunners' friendly draw with Lens, fuelling speculation of a move.

But he said he was there to watch another client, Jeanricner Bellegarde, and denied that there was a deal in place for Mahrez to move to north London.

Fellow Foxes wide man Marc Albrighton is hopeful that his boss is right about the 25-year-old staying put.

He said: "Hopefully, what the manager says is right.

"You like to hear the likes of Riyad and Vards (Jamie Vardy) are staying and want to continue what we keep achieving.

"A player of his quality is always going to attract attention from other clubs and the media are only going to keep that up, which you can understand.

"But as far as Riyad's concerned, he's a level-headed guy and he does his talking on the pitch - he proved that today."

Teammate Demarai Gray shared that sentiment, adding that Mahrez was unaffected by the speculation surrounding his future.

He said: "He's a Leicester player, that's that.

"We just do what we do, train and focus on games.

"Obviously he got Player of the Year (award) and we won the league, so you expect speculation, but he's a good professional and concentrates on what he does and produces like what he did today.

ATTENTION

"We're used to the attention we get now."

Before the Algerian, much of the attention involving Leicester surrounded Arsenal's failed bid for striker Jamie Vardy.

Despite N'Golo Kante leaving for Chelsea and Mahrez's future under a cloud, Leicester City captain Wes Morgan insists the England striker made the right move snubbing the Gunners.

Morgan told The Daily Mirror: "It's to be expected that teams are going to be interested in him, but he has committed himself to Leicester and it's great for the fans, the players and the club.

"He has proved himself on the big stage and, no doubt, he can do that again because he's much more confident now.

"Even on the ­international stage with England, he has been a threat straight away.

"And, at Leicester, he's proved himself.

"We are the defending champions - there's no reason for him to leave." - Wire Services.

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