LONDON • Riyad Mahrez is set to reject Leicester City's offer of a new contract, after the forward decided that he wants to pursue a new challenge away from the Premier League champions.
The Algerian, who joined the English football club in 2014 from French side Le Havre for £375,000 (S$670,000), has attracted widespread attention from clubs in England and overseas after his performances in their remarkable title-winning season.
He has three years remaining on the contract he signed last August, in a deal which is believed to be worth £35,000 a week.
However, having held talks with Leicester over a new contract believed to be worth in the region of £80,000 a week, he is understood to be unwilling to extend his stay at the King Power Stadium and has instructed his representatives to find him a new club this summer.
The news will come as a blow to the Foxes' manager Claudio Ranieri, with France midfielder N'Golo Kante joining Chelsea for a fee of around £30 million yesterday.
The player said: "I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It's a dream come true for me. The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world, was simply too good to turn down.
"My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time with Chelsea."
Ranieri had been optimistic about Mahrez's future 24 hours earlier, saying he was confident the midfielder would stay at Leicester.
"He remains with us. He's not the kind of man who will say, 'Coach, I want to leave.' He is happy here," said the Italian at the club's training camp in Austria.
France Football magazine said Mahrez wants to join a big European club, with Spanish giants Barcelona among the clubs to have been linked with him in the past.
There is now a fear at Leicester that more players from their Premier League-winning squad could leave if they do not get better pay packages. Midfielder Danny Drinkwater, winger Marc Albrighton and captain Wes Morgan are still waiting for improved offers.
Said Drinkwater: "I'm not chasing the club. It's up to them to approach me. I would love to commit... It's up to them how they handle it."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE