London (AFP) – Leicester manager Claude Puel intends to do all he can to ensure that Riyad Mahrez comes back “with a smile” after the Algeria playmaker saw a potential move to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City fall through on Wednesday’s transfer deadline day.
With the Foxes desperate not to lose one of the stars of their shock 2015/16 Premier League title success, there were reports in the British press that Manchester City baulked at Leicester’s £96 million ($136 million, 110 million euro) valuation of Mahrez and walked away without submitting a bid.
Mahrez was left out of the Leicester side beaten 2-1 at Everton later Wednesday and Puel said it had been a tricky situation for both the club and the player alike.
“We receive at the last moment something about City and I think it was harsh for us. It was difficult also for Riyad,” said Puel.
“We have to understand (all) parts: for me, for the squad, for the player. We will accept the decision, it was a decision taken between the two clubs.
“Of course I have all confidence about the owner to take a good decision about Riyad for the future and after we will see with Riyad when he can come back with us.”
The Frenchman added: “All the players and staff will help him to come back with a smile and to enjoy his football. Players know it will be difficult sometimes for Riyad.
“We have a fantastic group, a fantastic squad, all the players have a fantastic relationship. All the players will give their best for Riyad.”
Everton were indebted to their new £20-million signing, Theo Walcott, for both their goals and Sam Allardyce was delighted by the way the former Arsenal forward linked up with Seamus Coleman, back after 10 months out with a broken leg.
“There’s a new partnership flourishing that’s come together for the very first time — Seamus and Theo,” Toffees manager Allardyce told Everton’s website.
“Theo could have scored a hat-trick,” the former England boss added. “Oumar Niasse could have scored a hat-trick — that’s how many good chances we created.”
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