Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri says rumours linking Danny Drinkwater with a return to Manchester United serve as good news for the club.
The 26-year-old, who progressed through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, failed to make a senior appearance before joining Leicester in 2012 following loan spells with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley.
Drinkwater was a driving force behind Leicester’s shock Premier League title triumph last term and earned a first call-up to the England squad in March as a result of his consistent form.
The midfielder has this week been linked with a possible move back to United in January, with Jose Mourinho reported to be keen to deploy him alongside world-record signing Paul Pogba at the heart of his midfield.
Ranieri has no intention of selling Drinkwater, who signed a contract extension in August, but welcomed the rumours as a sign that his players are continuing to perform to a high standard.
“I’m very surprised because it often happens a month before the open of the market, not now,” he said of the reports, which have emerged ahead of Leicester’s clash with United on Saturday. “He signed a new contract and everything is normal.
“But it’s good for him, for us, when I have players who a lot of big teams want. It means we’re working very well.
“Sometimes I think, maybe the newspapers don’t have enough news and they write some. It’s okay.
“One year ago, nobody was asking about our players. Now there are big, big teams. My players must be very proud about this but maintain their way.
“If something happens, it’s okay, but he signed a new contract and he doesn’t have a clause. We don’t want to sell anybody.”
Leicester, who drew 1-1 in the same fixture last season, could welcome back goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel after he missed the win over Burnley and the EFL Cup loss to Chelsea with a minor concussion.
“Today he’ll have a training session, tomorrow I will check. If it’s nothing serious, he will play,” Ranieri said.
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