Wenger admits he is monitoring 25-year-old, Arsenal strongly linked with stunning swoop
By Dominic Toner
Arsene Wenger has admitted he is keeping a close eye on Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.
Eurosport reported last week that the Algerian midfielder was close to following N’Golo Kante out of the Leicester exit door and join Arsenal in a £42million deal.
Wenger was in attendance as Leicester lost 4-0 to French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the International Champions Cup on Sunday and, intriguingly, left as soon as Mahrez was substituted in the second half.
The Frenchman was questioned afterwards about his reported interest in signing Mahrez and, although he refused to confirm that a bid for the winger had been lodged and insisted that his transfer business would remain secret, Wenger did admit he was closely monitoring the player.
“Yes of course we watch all the players but we play Leicester in the second game of the championship so of course it is a good opportunity for us tonight to see them,” Wenger said to BeIn Sports.
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“I can not give you a yes or no because we do not publicise our transfer interests, the best way to make things happen is to keep them as secret as possible.”
There was a half-smile on Wenger’s face following each of the three questions he was asked about Mahrez as he refused to deny Arsenal’s interest in the playmaker despite having the clear opportunity to do so.
Nevertheless, the Gunners manager half-chided the interviewer for repeatedly asking about Mahrez and told him, “You did not understand very well what I just told you (laughs).”
Arsenal travel to the King Power Stadium on the second game of the Premier League season and Wenger insisted that he was preparing for the clash, which has last years champions clashing against the runners up.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has advised the current PFA Player of the Year to remain at the Foxes and snub a move to the Emirates.
The Algeria international was the standout performer for the Premier League champions in their title triumph last season with 17 league goals and 10 assists, while forming a highly productive partnership with Jamie Vardy.
He joined from Le Havre, who play in the French Ligue 2, midway through the 2013-14 season and helped Leicester earn a return to the Premier League.
Mahrez has been training with Leicester during this pre-season and grabbed himself a goal in the International Champions Cup against Celtic, after he completed a trademark run past the defenders and curled the ball inside the far post with his left foot.
Wenger has already managed to strengthen his squad this summer bringing in youngsters Rob Holding and Takuma Asano, as well as Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka.
In other Arsenal transfer news, Twitter has reached to the club reportedly lining up a £15million bid for a Manchester United academy graduate.