In the few days before the game yesterday, the sports papers and websites had been full of Arsenal transfer rumours linking us with the Leicester City and Algeria international star Riyad Mahrez, with talk about a bid of around £40 million being readied and with the player said to have decided to make the move away from the King Power stadium and the Premier League champions.
That may well still happen and the papers today have not eased up on the rumours, but I cannot help but wonder what the inclusion of Mahrez in the Leicester team that faced the Scottish champions Celtic at the International Champions Cup means to our transfer hopes.
If Leicester were ready to sell then I do not think he would have played, so it is clear that Ranieri is at least trying to stop his star player from leaving. The Italian’s words after the match, reported by Sky Sports, were full of bluster and confidence although that does not necessarily mean that he will get his wish. The fact that he also tried to hint that Mahrez might not get the same regular football if he joined the Gunners and that this could affect his form told me that Ranieri is not convinced that the transfer deal will not happen.
The Leicester boss said, “Did you see how Riyad is happy? He played so well, worked so hard for the team, he scored a goal and he stays with us.
“It is very important [to keep him] he is one of our stars.
“Other teams maybe have more stars and maybe he doesn’t play at the same level, because maybe is on the bench so it is much better he stays with me.
“I am always confident [of keeping players]. Of course, we know that there are other teams that want to win the Premier League, we our just to defend.”
Mahrez did play well and scored the fantastic only goal for the Foxes, which does support Ranieri’s words, but will that hurt Arsenal’s transfer hopes or make Arsene Wenger even more determined to sign him?