Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante will leave newly-crowned Premier League champions Leicester City this summer, predicts Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
The two midfielders have been key players in Leicester’s odds-defying title win under Claudio Ranieri this season, with Mahrez named PFA Player of the Year.
However, Merson says the pair will be targeted by a number of top clubs during the transfer window and could be tempted by a move.
Leicester vs Everton
“I worry Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante could leave,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“I don’t see a problem with Jamie Vardy, as I don’t think anyone will pay a lot of money for him at 29 years old, but the other two stars are a worry.
I’d be shocked if those two [Mahrez and Kante] were there next season.
“Kante will be at the Euros and his France team-mates will be going: ‘Oh, my manager wants you’. That’s how it works and he’s going to have his head twisted.
“I’d be shocked if those two were there next season.”
Why N’Golo Kante is the signing of the season after his pivotal role in Leicester’s title triumph.
Leicester boss Ranieri told Sky Sports on Tuesday that he is keen to keep his title-winning squad together next season but insisted he would allow “unhappy” players to leave in order to protect the spirit in his camp.
The Italian also revealed Leicester would be looking to strengthen their squad for their Premier League defence in 2016/17, when they will also have to manage a Champions League campaign.
If some players don’t want to stay with us because they are unhappy to continue with us, then I don’t want unhappy people.
“I don’t want to sell anybody but of course if some players don’t want to stay with us because they are unhappy to continue with us, then I don’t want unhappy people,” said Ranieri.
“We are looking to reinforce the team but with the same mentality, because this is my mentality and this is their mentality. We all linked very well together. Whoever comes in must know we are working hard.”
Merson expects Leicester’s plans for summer signings to already be well underway but suggests they would most likely lose out to the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United in a race to sign big-name players .
“I don’t know who they can bring in,” he said. “They’re going to have to use all of Ranieri’s experience bringing in players that other people don’t know about and aren’t going for.