Claudio Ranieri has described Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy as “a fantastic horse” who serves as an inspiration to his team-mates.
Vardy, who has struck 19 goals so far this season, has been heralded as one of the driving forces behind Leicester’s stunning Premier League title push which has seen them open up a seven-point gap at the top of the table with six games to play.
Ranieri, who proclaimed himself “the sausageman” earlier this term after learning of a local butcher who had designed some produce in his honour, has employed another irreverent turn of phrase to describe his star striker’s impact upon Leicester’s campaign.
“Jamie Vardy, for example. This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse,” he said on US website The Players’ Tribune. “He has a need to be free out there on the pitch.
“I say to him, ‘You are free to move however you want, but you must help us when we lose the ball. That’s all I ask of you. If you start to press the opposition, all of your team-mates will follow you’.”
Ranieri, who revealed he was told at the start of the season that the club’s target was simply to avoid relegation, has not been surprised by the form of Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante given the early impressions he was given in training.
Indeed, he has described Kante – who has earned a place in the senior France team for his performances – as having “a pack full of batteries” driving his displays.
“When I arrived for my first day of training and I saw the quality of these players, I knew how good they could be,” he said.
“This player Kante, he was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts. He never stopped running in training.
“I had to tell him, ‘Hey, N’Golo, slow down. Slow down. Don’t run after the ball every time, okay?’
“He says to me, ‘Yes, boss. Yes. Okay.’ Ten seconds later, I look over and he’s running again.”
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