Leicester City remain confident that Riyad Mahrez will stay at the King Power Stadium, but club officials acknowledge there is a chance the Algeria international will leave before the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
The Guardian reported on Friday evening that Mahrez has rejected the Foxes’ latest contract offer and has instructed his representatives to find him a new club this summer.
Following the departure of N’Golo Kante, who joined Chelsea in a £32 million deal over the weekend, it would be foolish of Leicester not to consider the possibility of a top European club making a big offer for the current PFA Player of the Year.
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But the Premier League champions are preparing for that possibility, according to the Telegraph.
If any club - Barcelona, Chelsea or whoever - wants to sign the 25-year-old this summer, they will need to fork out more than £45 million.
On the face of it, this might sound steep.
But when you consider Mahrez scored 17 goals and registered 11 assists in 37 league appearances for Claudio Ranieri’s side last season, combined with the fact he still has the best years of his career ahead of him, £45 million is a fair price.
Leicester want Raheem Sterling's fee as benchmark
Leicester believe so after comparing their star’s market value to that of Raheem Sterling, who joined Manchester City in a £49 million deal from Liverpool last summer.
The Foxes want Sterling’s transfer fee to be used as a benchmark in any negotiations for their slender winger.
Ranieri believes Mahrez will stay
Ranieri, however, will naturally be desperate for the club to hold onto Mahrez following his exploits last season. Indeed, the Italian is confident the former Le Havre player, who cost Leicester £375,000 in 2014, will stay at the King Power.
“He remains with us. He’s not the kind of man who will say: ‘Coach I want to leave.’ He is happy here,” Ranieri said at the club’s training camp in Austria last week.
How much is Riyad Mahrez worth? Have your say by leaving a comment below.