The transfer window closes at the end of the month, but it’s a month that will feel excruciatingly long for Claudio Ranieri.
The Leicester City boss is doing everything in his power to convince Riyad Mahrez to snub Arsenal before the August 31 deadline.
That is more than enough time for any European giant, not just Arsenal, to figure out Mahrez’s price tag. The Daily Mail claim he’s worth £35 million but the Foxes would surely hold out for at least £50m.
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The problem for Ranieri, though, is that clubs would be willing to pay that much. Mahrez burst onto the scene last season, contributing to Leicester’s Premier League title success with 17 goals and 11 assists.
He’s somewhat lucky that Arsenal have bigger priorities than signing another attacking midfielder but Arsene Wenger refused to rule out a move when pressed on the matter on Sunday.
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Mahrez has watched Jamie Vardy turn down Arsenal’s advances; he’s seen N’Golo Kante submit to Chelsea’s interest. Now, it’s his turn to decide whether it’s worth continuing Leicester’s remarkable story or whether to join a team where Champions League football is a regular occurrence, not simply the result of an extremely unlikely success.
Ranieri reckons Mahrez will stay
Ranieri has changed tack in his attempt to ward Arsenal off by claiming Mahrez’s intelligence will see him snub the north London side.
“I spoke often with him and I say, ‘stay with us, it’s much better for your future’,” the Italian told Sky Sports News. “I think he’s an intelligent man and at the end he’ll stay with us.”
Wenger watched Leicester in the United States
Mahrez hasn’t made clear any desire to leave Leicester this summer and has been offered an improved £100,000-a-week contract by the Premier League champions.
Yet some fans weren’t buying Wenger’s comments that the only reason he watched Leicester’s pre-season game against Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday was to scout the team they play in the second game of the new season.
The Gunners are reportedly interested in signing Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi, Wenger’s desire to sign a centre back boosted by Pep Mertesacker’s lengthy injury.
Yet the Frenchman remained coy when asked about Mahrez and Mustafi.
“I cannot give you a yes or no because we do not publicise our transfer interest and the best way to make things happen is to keep it as secret as possible,” he said, per the Mirror.
“We have not closed any deal with anybody at the moment. That’s the answer.
“You speak about Mustafa. Is it Mustafi or anybody else - we haven’t concluded anything at the moment.”