Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mahrez´s Champions League ambitions no problem for Shakespeare

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 17 May 2017

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Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare has no problem with Riyad Mahrez hinting he could pursue a move from the club in order to play in Europe.

Mahrez, named PFA Player of the Year following Leicester’s unlikely Premier League title triumph last term, said in an interview he wanted to play Champions League football every season.

Despite a remarkable upturn in form since Shakespeare replaced sacked Claudio Ranieri – Leicester won five straight Premier League games and reached the Champions League quarter-finals – they can finish no higher than eighth in the final table.

There will therefore be no European football at the King Power Stadium next season, but Shakespeare shrugged off reports that Algeria international Mahrez is considering his future at the club.

“It can be interpreted in different ways,” Shakespeare told Sky Sports ahead of Thursday’s league game at home to Tottenham. “I think there’s nothing wrong with ambition, whether that be from a player, a manager or a coach.

“Him saying he wants to play in the Champions League – I think you’ll remember I said after being knocked out by Atletico [Madrid], we want to experience this again. I don’t see any problem with that.

“You have to talk to the players. But until you get an offer there’s no need to have that conversation, other than to know they’re okay, there are no issues, they feel wanted. But it’s important you keep your best players at the club.”

Shakespeare’s future is also undecided as his contract is due to expire at the end of the season, but he is in no rush to commence talks about a long-term agreement.

“We’ve got two games left, it will come to a conclusion,” Shakespeare added. “I think the club know that it’s important for forward planning that it gets sorted. So, my answer is we won’t have to wait long.”

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