Belfast Telegraph

Claudio Ranieri calls for stars to stay as Leicester are handed Premiership crown

Leicester 3 - Everton 1

By Samuel Stevens

Claudio Ranieri has reiterated his plea with Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante to stay with Leicester City as the champions were presented with the Premier League trophy on Saturday evening.

Jamie Vardy, who signed a lucrative new contract with the Foxes in February, scored a brace on his return from suspension which bookended a neat Andy King strike as the Foxes swept Everton aside at a raucous King Power Stadium.

Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year, and Kante, who signed from Caen for £5.6m last summer, are considered most likely to attract attention among Ranieri's squad with Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal linked with moves for both last week.

"If they are intelligent, they stay with us another year," the Italian said, before Kasper Schmeichel and Christian Fuchs stormed the media suite in Leicester, dousing their manager in champagne. "They know the Champions League is very difficult.

"Then after this next experience they can go.

"If they ask me something, I say 'stay with me'.

"But if somebody comes to me and says 'I'd like to go' then go because I want only happy players with me."

The 64-year-old insisted he would enjoy only a modest celebration with family and friends after ending a 28-year hunt for major silverware.

Ranieri has previously stated that Leicester, champions for the first time in their 132-year existence, will only aspire towards a top-half finish next season, heaping the pressure back onto the traditional elite of the English game.

Quizzed on his side's chances of defending their title, however, the Roman was bullish, backing his Premier League conquerors to continue their excellent form into the new campaign.

"I don't know next season what happens because this has been a magic season, but you imagine if Leicester start well again… what happens? I don't know.

"Now, let me think only of this last match [against Chelsea], let me go to the sea, recharge my batteries and we restart next season with the same ambition, with the same humility, with the same feeling."

Meanwhile, Roberto Martinez, the beleaguered Everton manager, raged at his side's struggles in handling the carnival atmosphere in the East Midlands.

In sharp contrast with Ranieri, the Spaniard is expected to be relieved of his duties in the summer after a year of stagnation dampened pre-season aspirations of qualifying for European football.

Kevin Mirallas's 88th-minute finish proved only a consolation on another torrid afternoon for Martinez's side.

LEICESTER: Schmeichel, Simpson, Wasilewski, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray 90), Kante, King, Albrighton (Schlupp 67), Okazaki (Ulloa 62),Vardy.

Subs Not Used: Amartey, Chilwell, Schwarzer, Inler.

Goals: Vardy 5, King 33, Vardy 65 pen.

EVERTON: Robles, Oviedo, Stones, Pennington, Baines, Lennon, Barkley (Osman81), McCarthy, Cleverley (Gibson 63), Niasse (Mirallas 63), Lukaku.

Subs Not Used: Besic, Howard, Connolly, Dowell.

Booked: Pennington, Cleverley, Gibson.

Goals: Mirallas 88.

Attendance: 32,140

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).

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