Puel plans charm offensive to hold on to Mahrez
Claude Puel has revealed his plan to “seduce” Riyad Mahrez and convince the winger to stay with Leicester.
Puel, the new Leicester manager, is set for talks with Mahrez as he attempts to persuade the former PFA Player of the Year to become a key figure in his regime.
Mahrez submitted a transfer request before pre-season and tried to force through a move on deadline day but ended up staying at the King Power Stadium. The Algeria international has shown recent glimpses of the performances that helped Leicester win the title two seasons ago, with two goals in the past three games.
Puel is ready to head off Mahrez’s potential departure in January by mounting a charm offensive to get him onside. “It is down to me to make these players want to stay by the fact we are playing good football. I have got to attract them, to seduce them,” he said.
“It is down to me to create that environment where these players want to thrive and stay and be happy and to enjoy themselves, their football and the plans that we have.
“It is normal for a player, if they win the title and play Champions League, that sometimes there is disappointment, frustration, because now they know the high level. My door is always open and it is important to listen, to try to tell them it is a different opportunity, that they feel they can improve.”
Puel begins his reign today against managerless Everton and returns to the Premier League four months after his dismissal from Southampton.
He guided Saints to the League Cup final and eighth place in the league but his style of play was seen as too reserved, leading to friction with senior players and frustration from supporters. But the 56-year-old has launched a staunch defence of his brief spell at St Mary’s and insisted he can repeat his achievements at Leicester.
“Of course there was a little frustration that there is no possibility to continue this work and to develop Southampton but now it’s finished,” he said. “I am proud of what I did there but a trainer is never satisfied.
“Would I take a final and eighth place here? Yes, of course.
“When you work at a high level in professional football you have to accept that things can happen. Sometimes decisions can be taken, but it doesn’t make you change the way you approach your job.
“When I come to a job I always try to bring something, not just on the playing side, on the technical football side, but to develop the club as a whole. You make little tweaks yourself but it is always long-term.
“It is important now to have a good focus about Leicester. We will go step by step. We will try to perform on the pitch and have good results and to find our way to the top half of the table.”
It’s good to talk: Claude Puel is ready to make his case and ‘seduce’ players to stay at Leicester