Ahead of Leicester City starting their Premier League title defence on Saturday, manager Claudio Ranieri has grown increasingly impatient over questions on the future of Riyad Mahrez.
With Leicester away to Hull this weekend, Ranieri was visibly agitated at a pre-match press conference, when asked if he has talked to Mahrez about a possible transfer.
Ranieri asked in response: “Could I know who is interested in Riyad Mahrez? Because I don’t know,who is interested?
“Tell me if there is one [offer of interest]. Riyad will stay with us. I say [to Mahrez] to keep going, to improve…the Champions League is different, European football is totally different to the Premier League and that is important to be focused.”
With the exception of N’Golo Kante’s sale to Chelsea, Leicester has kept the bulk of last season’s squad together, while adding the dynamic Ahmed Musa and Bartosz Kapustka.
After contributing 17 goals and 10 assists in Leicester’s famous run to the title, last season’s PFA Player of the Year has reportedly received interest from Arsenal, but Ranieri still found room to joke in denying the rumours.
“Never has Riyad come to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to go,'” Ranieri said.
“Maybe the reason for that is I would kill him. I would throttle him. He’s a lucky man!”
Ultimately, Ranieri added speculation and current interest in the Algerian international is merely the nature of football and form.
“It’s not a problem having all this speculation about Riyad. It’s a process you go through when you are playing well.
“When there is all this attention around you, it is because you are doing well. He actually needs to feel that there are other teams and other managers who want him.”