Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has admitted he is concerned that star man Riyad Mahrez is being distracted by constant reports linking him with a move to Arsenal.
The Italian manager believes the ongoing speculation is having a detrimental effect on the Algerian winger’s ability to stay focused ahead of the new season.
Mahrez shone for the unlikely Premier League champions last season, contributing 17 goals and 11 assists on his way to the PFA Player of the Year award.
Unsurprisingly his stand-out displays have quickly led to talk of an exit from the King Power Stadium, with Arsenal emerging as the frontrunners.
Ranieri has remained confident that Mahrez will stay put, but the attendance of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger at Leicester’s International Champions Cup defeat against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday has not gone unnoticed.
And Ranieri has acknowledged that the 25-year-old is being effected by the rumours.
‘Maybe Riyad is distracted a bit by all of these rumours and speculation,’ Ranieri told reporters at a press conference.
‘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 last season.’
Mahrez’s current contract runs up until June 2019. The Foxes have had an up and down transfer window so far, losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea but persuading Jamie Vardy to snub a move to Arsenal.