Leicester City remain confident of keeping star player Riyad Mahrez – but would not let him go without a fight if he were to push for a move.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Mahrez had rejected a new contract offer from the Premier League champions – a claim which Leicester strongly refute – but any potential bidders would have to pay in excess of £45m to land the Algerian international, according to the Telegraph.
Chelsea lost N’Golo Kanté last week due to his release clause, and nearly had to sell Jamie Vardy last month for the same reason, but without the presence of such a clause in Mahrez’s contract, the Foxes are free to demand whatever fee they see fit for the 25-year-old.
The report suggests that Leicester have used the £49m transfer of Raheem Sterling as something of a starting point for any negotiation involving Mahrez. The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona have all been credited with an interest but are likely to be put off by the price tag.
In the meantime, Leicester still hope to agree terms on a new contract with Mahrez in the coming weeks. An offer of £100,000 per week is currently on the table and they remain optimistic that he will sign the deal and finally put an end to the persistent transfer speculation. His current deal expires in 2019.
Mahrez has been an unqualified success since completing a €500,000 transfer from Le Havre in 2014. He scored 17 Premier League goals last season as Claudio Ranieri’s side won the most unlikely of league titles. On a personal note, he was awarded the title of PFA Player of the Year after a remarkable campaign.
Their success has led to an increase in interest in their biggest assets – as well as the offers for Kanté and Vardy, Leicester face a battle to keep hold of assistant manager and head of recruitment Steve Walsh, with Everton making a move for him in the past 48 hours.