With mixed messages coming out this week claiming that Riyad Mahrez both wanted to stay at Leicester and join Arsenal, Claudio Ranieri has been as clear as he could possibly be.

Meeting the press for the first time ahead of defending his title this season, Ranieri, was, inevitably, asked about the man Arsenal were first linked to last summer before he became player of the year (a lot of fans sneered at the rumour then).

Ranieri told reporters, “Never has Riyad come to me and said ‘coach, I want to go’ because I’ll kill him before he tells me this,” said Ranieri, while pretending to strangle him. “It’s not a problem. When there is all this attention around your name it’s because you are doing well.

“The speculation is normal, he is a big player and he needs to feel there are other teams and managers who want him.

“I don’t know, who is interested? Tell me if there is one. Arsenal? No.

“Riyad will stay with us.”

Given that he also said that about Jamie Vardy, would you bet against him?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGSbU8-WJp4

Ranieri also added, “Mahrez for us is very important, is our light. If you go to another big team, there are so many lights, so many stars … why?”

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.