Football: Leicester boss Ranieri wants more from Mahrez

Leicester's Jamie Vardy (left) celebrates a goal with Riyad Mahrez (centre) and Ahmed Musa (right).
Leicester's Jamie Vardy (left) celebrates a goal with Riyad Mahrez (centre) and Ahmed Musa (right).PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (AFP) - Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has told winger Riyad Mahrez he expects him to improve after the Algeria star committed his future to the Premier League champions by signing a new four-year deal.

Mahrez ended speculation about his future on Wednesday (Aug 17) when it was announced he was extending his stay at the King Power Stadium after both he and Leicester team-mate Jamie Vardy, also staying put at the Midlands club, were linked with moves to Arsenal.

Mahrez, 25, was a key figure in Leicester's shock run to the 2015/16 title, which saw the Foxes defy odds of 5,000/1, scoring 17 goals and getting an extra 11 assists.

His form last season also saw Mahrez named Player of the Year by England's Professional Footballers' Association.

But Ranieri, speaking on Thursday, said he wanted Mahrez to up his game even more this season.

"We are now in the Champions League and we need something more to play against the big teams," Ranieri said.

"Now he knows very well what I want and my expectations are higher. Not only for Riyad but for all my players.

 

"I was so sure (he would stay), it was only speculation with first Vardy and then Mahrez and we only lost (N'Golo) Kante. Now it's important to stay together," the Italian boss added.

"We spoke together last season and in pre-season and he told me he wanted to stay. Speculation is normal.

"I want to keep our big players, that's normal. Our owner is very ambitious, he wants to maintain the same squad. It's normal other managers are looking at Leicester players, there's no message - we are building and want to stay together.

"He signed for four years, me too because I want to build. He wants to build something, Jamie wants to, Kasper (Schmeichel), everybody. It is good."