Leicester boss Ranieri considers dropping Mahrez

The reigning Premier League Player of the Year has struggled for form this season and it may be time to take him out of the firing line.


Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has conceded that Riyad Mahrez may need a break in order to rediscover his title-winning form of last season.

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The Algeria international was a key man for the Foxes in 2015-16 as they beat the odds to land the Premier League crown.

His efforts were rewarded with the top-flight Player of the Year award, while a summer of speculation saw him linked with big-money moves to several clubs – including Arsenal.

Mahrez ultimately stayed put, but he has struggled to produce his best this term as a marked man and Ranieri admits that a spell out of the firing line may be required for the 25-year-old.

“Of course we have to do something, have to study something, because the opponent now knows us very well and we can’t continue only with Riyad and to give him all the responsibility,” said the Italian.

“You watch the match and every time Riyad gets the ball he tried to do something special. The opponent is very careful when he receives the ball, always three opponents were close to him.

“I try to say to him play simple, but sometimes he takes the responsibility to do something for the team because he is our quality player.

“His season is okay, because in the Champions League he is playing well and also he is trying to do his best in the Premier League.”

Mahrez did convert a penalty at Watford on Saturday, but was unable to prevent Leicester from slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Vicarage Road.

The reigning champions are now perched just two points above the relegation zone, with Ranieri – who is juggling domestic action with a European adventure – admitting to glancing nervously over his shoulder.

“Last season always I was watching behind me, and this season I am watching behind me. The relegation [zone] is very close to us and we have to react,” he said.

“Of course I expected difficulties but not so strong. I expected some more points, but that is normal after a team, a club like Leicester wins the title. Now we have to be compact, continue to work hard because there is only one medicine, working hard and being together.”



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