Leicester City manager Claude Puel remains adamant that the club will not be selling star player Riyad Mahrez in the January transfer window. The Algerian midfielder has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Liverpool this month, but Puel claims the rumours are nothing but speculation.
Mahrez, who has been in top form again this season, and is apparently on top of the lists for both Arsenal and Liverpool, who both eye the Foxes star as a replacement for their respective outgoing stars. Philippe Coutinho has already left the Reds for Barcelona, and Alexis Sanchez's departure from Arsenal looks set to happen in the coming days.
The 26-year-old has eight goals and seven assists in all competitions this season and is not going anywhere, according to Puel. "He has a fantastic influence on the team, a valuable player for the team," said the manager (via The Guardian).
"We can see he is enjoying his football and is happy with his team-mates and with us. It’s important for us to keep our best players."
Mahrez's fine form could mean a bumper transfer fee for any clubs interested in signing the midfielder. Premier League pundit Robbie Savage believes the midfielder could be worth up to £75m.
But Puel is not concerned about his player's links to other clubs. When asked about Mahrez's situation, he said:
"It’s not a question in our mind. All the noise is just speculation. Of course we are in the transfer window and it’s normal for all the best players [to be linked with transfers], but I’m not afraid about this because there’s a fantastic spirit and good attitude in this squad.
"I have confidence in Riyad. We spoke a lot with him, [about] different things, and often about football, because he likes football a lot. He is now with good maturity, good experience of life, and we can see this in this game."
While a Mahrez transfer is off the table for Puel, Leicester could still do some business in this transfer window. Puel has said he has "six strikers for just two positions," suggesting that some players could be sold. Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheanacho have both been linked with moves away from the club.