Claude Puel says no ill feeling over Manchester City bid for Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez ended his self-imposed exile on Friday.
Leicester manager Claude Puel holds no hard feelings towards Manchester City over the Riyad Mahrez saga.
As the two teams prepare to play each other at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, City boss Pep Guardiola says his club are not responsible for the Algerian’s absence.
Mahrez ended his self-imposed exile on Friday morning by returning to train alongside his team-mates for the first time since City’s failed bid to sign him at the end of the January transfer window.
Leicester blocked what would have been a dream move to the Premier League leaders for Mahrez, and he has subsequently missed the games against Everton and Swansea.
With the two clubs set to meet for the first time since Mahrez became unsettled, Puel insists he bears no grudge towards Guardiola’s team.
“There’s no revenge about Manchester City, or the club,” said the Frenchman.
“We are professionals without feelings like that. I think it is important to keep it clear and always have a good focus about our play.
“All the bad feelings about revenge or other things, there’s none.
“My squad has a fantastic attitude, they have strength together. It is a good quality, the spirit of the team.
“We can play against Manchester City with a fantastic spirit and collective play and make a difference and I hope we will see this on Saturday.”
For his part, Mahrez released a statement on Friday in which he said he said “presumptions” about his absence were “totally without foundation”.
He travelled with the team when they set off for Manchester on Friday and Guardiola insists that he would like to play against a Leicester side which included the former PFA Player of the Year, although it is highly unlikely Puel will bring Mahrez back for this match.
It means Mahrez will miss a third Premier League game. Asked if he felt City were partly to blame for the situation, Guardiola replied: “I don’t think so.
“Leicester came to pick up Kelechi (Iheanacho), we did it. In all transfers, the clubs call the clubs, it’s simple like that.
“After that we are not involved in absolutely anything. It’s a decision for the player and the club, not Manchester City.”
The only change to the Leicester squad is likely to see Shinji Okazaki miss out with a knee injury. The striker could be sidelined for up to two weeks with the problem.