Arsenal are reported to be in talks with two of Leicester City’s Premier League title-winning side in a bid to bolster their squad for next season, with both N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez subject of intense interest from the Gunners.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has already admitted that the club’s transfer plans for next season are already underway, and the 66-year-old Frenchman will need to strengthen his midfield given that Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini will all depart at the end of the season when their contracts expire.
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Wenger has claimed that he considered signing Mahrez from Le Havre when the Algeria international was playing in the French second division, while Kante has been linked with the club given he could be the answer to their midfield conundrum that has plagued Arsenal since Patrick Vieira’s departure in 2005.
According the France Football, Arsenal have already enquired about the availability of both players and will offer the newly-crowned Premier League champions up to £60m for the pair – with Mahrez set to cost £40m while Kante is valued at around half the price.
Kante’s excellent season for Leicester has seen him break into the France squad ahead of the 2016 European Championships next month, having been given run-outs in the international friendlies against the Netherlands and Russia in March, scoring a goal against the latter.
The 25-year-old has only two caps for his country, but he proved integral to the Foxes’s Premier League title success and has been urged to stay at the club by manager Claudio Ranieri despite the interest coming from the Emirates.
Premier League games: 35
France caps: 2
France goals: 1
Claudio Ranieri urges Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante to stay for Champions League adventure
Mahrez has also shone this season, having been named the PFA Player of the Year at the end of April. The 25-year-old has scored 17 times in the league this season, backing up striker Jamie Vardy’s haul of 24, while he has laid on 11 assists for his teammates having emerged as Leicester’s playmaking midfielder.
Ranieri does not want to lose any of his players during the summer, though he did stress that any player that does not want to be at the King Power Stadium should leave because he doesn’t want those type of players among his squad.
Leicester hope to keep hold of all their players but Claudio Ranieri has conceded he will not stand in the way of any who insist on leaving — as long as clubs pay the money required.
The French international, N’Golo Kante was voted by his team-mates as Leicester’s Player of the Season on Tuesday night, is subject to serious interest from Europe’s traditional powerhouses, but insisted he was not a ‘star’.
In his own words
Kante is believed to have a £20 million release clause in his contract and Paris Saint-Germain are keen on a move, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also interested. Kante, signed for £5.6m from Caen last summer, is expected to be offered a new contract by Leicester to raise his £40,000-a-week wage and he could yet stay at the King Power Stadium.
‘It has been a good season with fans supporting us since the beginning,’ he said. ‘When I came here I can’t imagine winning the title. But as the season has gone on we feel and say, “Why not?” Now we did it. ‘Champions League next season will be new for me but I hear good things. We don’t know what will happen, we have just joined at this moment. We have just done it for this season, next season we will see.’
Asked whether Leicester could retain star players after their title, Kante, after receiving his team Player of the Year Award replied: ‘I am not a star player. Ranieri is a good man, he did very good work and we are happy for him. It was the spirit of the team.’