London (AFP) – Manager Claudio Ranieri wants Leicester City fans to give N’Golo Kante a warm reception when he makes his first return to the Foxes on Tuesday with Chelsea in the EFL Cup.
France midfielder Kante was a key figure as Leicester produced a stunning upset to win the Premier League title last season before making a big-money move to Stamford Bridge over the summer.
He was the only major departure from Leicester as the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy all signed new contracts at the King Power Stadium.
“I will give him a very warm welcome back and I am sure also our fans, they must appreciate what he did last season and give him a warm welcome,” said the Italian Ranieri.
“I will be very happy if our fans clap him at the beginning and afterwards he is an enemy.
“They must understand that when arrives a big team it is difficult to say no. For this reason I say thank you to Jamie Vardy and his family, and to Riyad, when they decided to stay here. For us it was important to maintain everybody.”
Ranieri made his name in English football as Chelsea manager from 2000 to 2004.
He also managed against new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte while the pair were in Italy.
“He (Conte) is a winner, but of course he needs time,” said Ranieri. “The reality here is different than in Italy and his job is bigger now. But he is right and I think he can lift some trophies.
“You need to understand the league and your players. The players must understand him and how he manages and how he changes, what he wants. I watch a good Chelsea so far.”
Schmeichel will be on the sidelines again as he recovers from concussion which saw the goalkeeper miss Saturday’s 3-0 win over Burnley.
Ron-Robert Zieler will start in goal for Leicester but Matty James and Nampalys Mendy (both ankle) are not yet fit.
Chelsea captain John Terry is also set to miss the match as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.
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