Arsenal fans clinging on to some slim hope of seeing Riyad Mahrez in a red shirt by the end of August have been dealt a definitive blow by Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri.
Reports have long suggested that Arsene Wenger is prepared to break Arsenal's £42.4million transfer record to bring the Algerian to north London.
There are significant doubts over whether those reports are true, but even if they are the Frenchman faces a formidable task prying the PFA Player of the Year from England's reigning champions.
Ranieri, speaking ahead of Leicester's first appearance in the Community Shield, was asked to expand on Mahrez's future. He responded emphatically, insisting in no uncertain terms that their star player will not be leaving the King Power Stadium this summer.
The Italian even offered up an explanation as to why N'Golo Kante was allowed to go. Ranieri confirmed the French midfielder had a release clause in his contract, allowing Chelsea to purchase him for around £30m.
Mahrez going nowhere
He said: “The chairman told me at the beginning when we spoke that we want to keep everybody. Kante had a clause and wanted to go, but the others stay with us.
“It is not a distraction for me. I am used to speaking about these things. But it is important that my players believe in the new moment. It is normal others want Riyad and other players, but we must focus on the job.
“I speak with him a lot and I hope I can help him.”
Ranieri's message follows one from their club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who posted a picture of him and Mahrez on his Twitter account with the caption: "VS: You Not for sale!! 😏. Mahrez: Ok boss😅 "
That may be disappointing for Arsenal fans to hear but it may not be an issue for Wenger, at least according to BBC journalist David Ornstein. The man who so rarely tweets about Arsenal remains the go-to guy for all comings and goings at the Emirates Stadium, and even he claimed there was no interest in the winger.
He said: "#AFC interested in signing Valencia defender Mustafi. No bid yet + others inc #CFC keen. Also want a striker but not pursuing Mahrez/Draxler."