if we had told you at the start of the season that Barcelona were chasing a Leicester player, you would have told us we were crazy.
But that may well be the case with The Sun reporting that the Spanish club have stepped up their pursuit of Riyad Mahrez.
And it’s hardly surprising given the Algerian’s form this season.
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Mahrez scored his 15th goal of the Premier League campaign this weekend to put his side five points clear at the top of the table.
But the more he impresses, the more likely that major European clubs will swoop for him the summer.
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According to the same report, Luis Enrique has told the Nou Camp chiefs that Mahrez is his number one transfer target at the end of the season and believes a £15 million bid will be enough to secure his services.
With his latest strike against Watford, Mahrez has moved above Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus on Enrique’s wish-list.
Although £15 million may not sound like a lot of money for a player of Mahrez’s quality, when you consider he was signed from Le Havre for just £350,000 it would represent an incredible profit.
Lure of Barcelona
Mahrez is under contract at the King Power Stadium until 2019 but has already spoken of his desire at playing for Barcelona, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi.
“It’s not my goal or my dream but obviously everyone wants to play with Messi. One day, maybe. Why not?” he told Goal.com.
And his manager had admitted that he will not stand in Mahrez’s way if he wanted to leave the club for a European superpower.
“We want to keep all our players. We believe in them. But if a player says, ‘Boss, I want to go there because it’s my ambition to go there’, I’ll say, ‘Go and enjoy, and good luck’. I want only players happy to stay here,” he told reporters.
Stave off interest
It’s obvious that, regardless if they win the Premier League, Leicester are going to have a fight on their hands to keep hold of their star players at the end of the season.
But Ranieri believes that by qualifying for next season’s Champions League, gives them the chance to be able to persuade their key players to remain at the club.
“Of course, it makes it easier to keep them,” said Ranieri. “For this reason the next five matches are very important. It’s our key. We have to fight because this opportunity won’t come back.
“Of course, we will not be like Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Leicester will be a very good team.”