Leicester keen for Ranieri to continue

LONDON • Leicester City will attempt to tie manager Claudio Ranieri to a new contract at the end of the season amid fears he could buy himself out of his existing deal and join a bigger club.

The Italian will still have two years left on his contract at the King Power Stadium in the summer, but The Times has learnt his existing deal contains a termination clause that can be activated by either club or manager.

Leicester's owners insisted on inserting the clause to give themselves an easy get-out after appointing a manager who had failed in his previous job with Greece, and had not worked in the Premier League for 11 years.

However, the clause has now left them vulnerable to losing the manager who has led them to the brink of an incredible title triumph. While Ranieri is very happy at Leicester, the 64-year-old could buy himself out of his contract at the end of the season for a modest sum.

Leicester's heroics have captivated football followers in Italy, leading to interest in Ranieri from several clubs. He has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Antonio Conte, who confirmed on Tuesday he will step down as Italy coach after the European Championship this summer and has been strongly linked to Chelsea.

The Premier League leaders will seek to remove the termination clause at the end of the season, as well as giving Ranieri an increase on his existing £1.5 million-a-year (S$2.9 million) salary, although he will also collect a further £1.7 million in bonuses if his side win the title.

Ranieri's response to Leicester's impending contract offer will be governed by the club's approach to the transfer market this summer, particularly their attitude to the lucrative offers they are likely to receive for many of their players.

The former Chelsea manager is determined to keep the bulk of his title-chasing squad together for what will almost certainly be Leicester's first Champions League campaign, and if several key players are sold he will be reluctant to extend his own commitment to the club.

Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante are seen as the players the club will find it most difficult to keep because they have been among the best players in the Premier League this season and have attracted interest from Barcelona and Arsenal respectively.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Leicester keen for Ranieri to continue'. Print Edition | Subscribe