Continued speculation that Leicester City star midfielder Riyad Mahrez is set to move to Arsenal for a major money payday is believed by Manager Claudio Ranieri to be distracting his performance.
Leicester City faced off against French title defenders Paris Saint-Germain in the International Champions Cup Saturday night and failed to achieve success as PSG left no doubt about their aspirations to have another fine season in France’s Ligue 1 and to make a run in this coming UEFA Champions League campaign.
Riyad Mahrez failed to take advantage of his opportunity to put his side back in the fight in the first half and he never really looked up for the challenge of the night. Prehaps he was just holding a little back for the club’s FA Community Shield showdown with Manchester United next weekend or perhaps the Arsenal rumors are getting to him.
Although he is believed to be in talks for a new contract with his current club, the Algerian International has been linked with a major move from English Premier League champions Leicester City to upcoming campaign title hopefuls Arsenal for weeks.
The Gunners clearly are in need of a little bit more cutting edge in both their midfield and attack and 25-year-old Riyad Mahrez is believed to be part of the answer to Arsene Wenger’s puzzle this transfer season.
“Maybe Riyad is distracted a bit by all of these rumors and speculation.”
Despite all the speculation and rumors, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes Riyad Mahrez is going nowhere this summer and has warned the Algerian against making a hasty departure so soon after the Foxes success.
Speaking after his club’s defeat, Ranieri claimed that all the buzz surrounding Riyad Mahrez was clearly distracting the midfielder during the PSG match according to his comments quoted by Sky Sports:
"“Maybe Riyad is distracted a bit by all of these rumors and speculation.But that is also an experience for my players.It is important that he understands that he should stay with us. He has to improve his fitness and play for the team as well as last season.”"
Last season’s impressive goal and assist haul for the Algerian clearly had a hand in pushing Leicester City over the top and to the English Premier League title and also that same success has potential suitors betting down his door this summer.
However, it seems more that the advice from Ranieri is genuine on more than one level because yes of course he wishes to keep one of his most important players, but he also knows without saying that Riyad Mahrez risks the chance of fading away at Arsenal if he is not allowed the role he is built to perform under a manager that has not spent a year playing him in roles where he can succeed.