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Transfer Rater: Mertens to Chelsea

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Leicester will only sell Riyad Mahrez to a non-Premier League club - source

Alison Bender and Stewart Robson discuss whether player power is dominating football and Riyad Mahrez's decision to strike after his move to Manchester City fell through.
ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop feels Riyad Mahrez's actions after not sealing a move to Man City are simply ridiculous, with Leicester having every right to put such a high asking price in place.
ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop feels Riyad Mahrez's actions after not sealing a move to Man City are simply ridiculous, with Leicester having every right to put such a high asking price in place.

Riyad Mahrez will only be allowed to leave Leicester City for a club outside the Premier League this summer if he reiterates his desire to leave the King Power Stadium at the end of the season, a source has told ESPN FC.

Mahrez, 26, returned to training with Claude Puel's squad on Friday morning after staying away from the club following Leicester's refusal to sell him to Manchester City on transfer deadline day.

A source has told ESPN FC that Mahrez remains determined to leave Leicester at the end of the season, with the player believing that he has been loyal to the club since helping them to their surprise Premier League title success in 2015-16.

Mahrez released a statement to add clarity to the situation on Friday.

"Over the past 10 days many people claiming to be my friend have spoken about me and things they know nothing about," he told the Daily Mail.

"Off the back of that many people and journalists have made assumptions without properly checking the story, so I would like to clarify that all those so-called assumptions of why I was absent are completely untrue.

"Myself nor my advisors have ever made any statements about that so all presumptions made are totally without foundation."

Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez has scored eight goals and assisted seven more for Leicester in the Premier League this season.

Mahrez went on to say that Leicester knew where he was throughout his absence.

"Leicester City were always aware of my whereabouts and had knowledge of my thinking either directly or via my advisors," he said. "I have been a part of the Leicester City team that has achieved much success including promotion to the Premier League and being champions of the league.

"My goals have always been the same and I have always given my full 100 percent when I play for the club the fans and my teammates.

"Those goals remain the same today and in the future and when I am asked to be a part of the Leicester team, rest assured I will continue to give my all."

Arsenal have held a long-standing interest in Mahrez, while City manager Pep Guardiola could yet return for the winger in the summer.

City had been prepared to negotiate a deal worth as much as £65 million, including a first-team player in part exchange, for Mahrez after losing Leroy Sane for up to six weeks with an ankle injury.

But Leicester's Thai owners rejected City's approach, with the Premier League leaders made aware that it would take a British record transfer fee of £95m to land Mahrez, who cost just £400,000 when he arrived from French side Le Havre in 2014.

But despite the prospect of banking a lower fee by selling Mahrez to a European club, Leicester are reluctant to allow Mahrez to join a Premier League rival and efforts will be made to find a buyer in Spain, Italy, France or Germany if the player cannot be persuaded to remain at the club.

Roma, who pursued Mahrez last summer, continue to have an interest in the player, but not at the price that Leicester quoted City last week.

Despite returning to training with Leicester on Friday, Mahrez will not be considered for the squad for Saturday's Premier League clash with City at the Etihad Stadium.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

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