Leicester City are determined to hold on to their star names this summer, but Barcelona might have other ideas.
Deep into February, just 12 games remaining – Leicester are still on top of the Premier League table. Unfortunately, footballing law dictates that when a smaller club outdoes itself in such a public way, the big vultures come circling.
The exploits of Claudio Ranieri’s side have not gone unnoticed across Europe, and now it seems that even Barcelona have begun to take a keen interest.
The Mirror are this morning reporting that Spanish league leaders Barcelona are looking to take star player Riyad Mahrez to the Camp Nou this summer, and are prepared to pay upwards of £20-25million to secure his signature.
Mahrez’s stock has risen dramatically over the last 18 months, making the £400,000 Leicester paid Le Harve for his services in January 2014 look like an absolute bargain.
The Algerian international has been instrumental to Leicester’s amazing season, and is widely regarded as one of the favourites, if not the outright favourite, for the PFA Player of the Year award this year.
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As such, Ranieri was hoping to tie the player down to a new contract, in the hope that doubling his wages, on par with Jamie Vardy, and the likely draw of Champions League football would be enough to keep Mahrez at the club.
Mahrez, 25, has also been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United as recently as the last January transfer window, and while a massive new contract and top four finish might be just enough to fend off the advances of those three (especially if the latter two aren’t in the Champions League next year), the lure of the European champions would be a different proposition altogether.
He has made no secret of his admiration of Lionel Messi in the past, and the chance to play with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner is likely to be an option that he would want to pursue.
The report strongly indicates that Leicester are quietly resigned to losing their talisman, meaning they will have to seriously reevaluate their transfer plans this summer.