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English Premier League

Riyad Mahrez is ‘distracted’ by persistent transfer talk, says Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri

The winger has been heavily linked with a summer transfer away from the Premier League champions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 2:57pm

Speculation about a possible transfer to Premier League rivals Arsenal has unsettled Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, manager Claudio Ranieri has said.

The 25-year-old Algeria international, who signed from Ligue 2 side Le Havre in 2014, has become a hot property after scoring 17 league goals and winning the PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s remarkable title-winning campaign.

Leicester have already had to fight off advances from Arsenal to keep striker Jamie Vardy, but lost midfielder N’Golo Kante to Chelsea for a reported fee of £32 million pounds (HK$328.9 million).

“Maybe Riyad is distracted a bit by all of these rumours and speculation,” Ranieri told British media.

First trophy in the bag for Leicester as Riyad Mahrez is named England’s Player of the Year

“But that is also an experience for my players. It is important that he understands that he should stay with us.

“He has to improve his fitness and play for the team as well as last season.”

Leicester, beaten 4-0 by French champions Paris St-Germain in a friendly in California on Saturday, kick off their title defence with a trip to newly-promoted Hull City on August 13.