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 By PA Sport

Riyad Mahrez must focus on Leicester amid transfer talk - Claudio Ranieri

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has warned Riyad Mahrez he must ignore transfer speculation or face the bench.

The winger has been linked with moves away from the Foxes following his stunning season to such lofty clubs as Barcelona.

He has scored 16 goals with Leicester top of the Premier League by two points ahead of Saturday's visit of Norwich.

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Jamie Vardy signed a new deal until 2019 this month while Mahrez agreed an extension until 2019 at the start of the season and Ranieri wants him to stay focused amid speculation he could move on in the summer.

"If Riyad plays well he continues to play. If he thinks about other teams he comes with me on the bench," the Italian said.

"If I am Riyad I say: 'There are a lot of teams who want me. OK, I have to show more if I want to go there. I have to show my best, because if I should do my best maybe they want to buy me.'

"We want to keep all our players. We believe in them. But if a player comes to me and says: 'Boss, I want to go there because it's my ambition to go there.' I'll say: 'Go and enjoy and have good luck.'

Riyad Mahrez has 16 goals to his name for Leicester this season.

"Because I only want players who are happy to stay here, because sooner or later we grow up a lot. Of course, not like Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Leicester will be a very good team."

But Ranieri admitted qualifying for the Champions League would make it easier to keep their stars.

"Of course it makes it easier. For this reason I said (the next) five matches are very important, it's our key," he added.

N'Golo Kante has also had a brilliant campaign following last summer's arrival from Caen and France manager Didier Deschamps is considering him for his Euro 2016 squad, a decision Ranieri has welcomed.

"Didier I know very well. In my opinion Kante is ready," he said. "Maybe if doesn't come now, next season, when we play [in the] Champions League I hope, he can show and he can watch how he plays in the Champions League."


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