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Craig Shakespeare has reaffirmed Riyad Mahrez wants to play for a top-six side but says Leicester are yet to receive any bids from England’s biggest clubs.
Arsenal are interested and may make a move as Monaco continue to resist attempts to sign Thomas Lemar, while Chelsea are also monitoring the situation.
Despite issuing a statement of his intent to leave at the start of the summer, Mahrez has been Leicester’s best player in pre-season and was a creative presence for an hour of the 2-1 friendly defeat at Burton Albion.
Shakespeare said the Algerian still wants a transfer away and though Roma have seen two bids rejected, the second worth £32million, the former PFA Player of the Year would prefer to stay in the Premier League.
‘He wants to play for a top-six club,’ said the Leicester manager. ‘If we don’t get an offer from a top-six club, he stays. If that offer comes in and it’s not enough, he stays. It is quite clear for me at the moment, he has made that statement but he is our player.
‘I picked him for 60 minutes, he performed. Is it doing my head in? It’s part and parcel of the transfer window. If you let it, it can affect you. But my job is to make sure the players are focused on every training session and every game.’
Demarai Gray’s future has also been on the agenda this week with the player’s representatives meeting director of football Jon Rudkin to discuss playing time. Shakespeare said the 21-year-old, who enjoyed a superb cameo as a substitute for Mahrez at the Pirelli Stadium, is very much in his thoughts.
‘His agents came in to have a meeting with the director of football, I wasn’t privy to that,’ said Shakespeare. ‘We’ve had conversations, myself and Dimi. It is well documented. We’ve spoken about trying to give him more game time and we are both happy with that.
‘He made an impact against Burton and we needed that. When we are behind we need someone of Demarai’s ability to go past people and create things, and he can be pleased with his 30 minutes.’ Shakespeare was much less satisfied with Yohan Benalouane, who flew into a dangerous challenge on Stephen Warnock and was immediately replaced by the Leicester manager.
‘Reckless,’ said Shakespeare. ‘It would have been a normal red card for me. My decision was to bring him off, sit him down and show him that. If he doesn’t learn he won’t be involved.’