Riyad Mahrez's future with Premier League champions Leicester City has been thrown into question over recent months, after claiming the PFA Player of the Year award. And Arsenal are understood to be in pole position to capture the signing of the 25-year-old.
The Algeria international netted 17 goals and produced 11 assists, as the Foxes defied all odds and were crowned Premier League champions, after being dismissed as relegation fodder at the beginning of the campaign.
But, as is the case in football, with good performances comes speculation, as news developed on Saturday that Arsenal had reportedly agreed a £41.8 million deal with Leicester for Mahrez.
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However, as reported by The Mirror, Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri fired a warning to the winger, who netted Leicester's only goal from open play, as the Foxes won their tie with Celtic on penalties in the International Champions Cup.
"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." said Ranieri.
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"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 he is on the bench, so it is much better he stays with me."
Reports over the past week have claimed Mahrez snubbed a new £80,000-a-week deal to stay at the King Power Stadium, as he looked to pursue a new challenge away from the east midlands club.
But Ranieri has made it clear that he has a very important role to play with Leicester this upcoming season, as they look to defend their Premier League crown, with Jamie Vardy having recently signed a new four-year deal at the club, after snubbing Arsenal.
Despite being desperate to keep his in-demand winger, Ranieri is not bothered by speculation about Mahrez's future, as he continues his preparations for the season ahead, adding: "Maybe tomorrow some newspapers say £100million, that is good - keep going. It is only speculation."
The former Chelsea boss' best hope is that the Algerian takes inspiration from teammate, Vardy, and buys into the club's plans for the upcoming season.
Ranieri has already stated he wants his Foxes side competing for silverware next campaign, even if retaining the Premier League trophy does seem unrealistic. But those hopes and aspirations could be boosted or hampered by where Mahrez finds himself come the end of the transfer window.
Would Riyad Mahrez benefit from another season at Leicester City? Give your opinion in the comment box below.
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