Puel plans charm of­fen­sive to hold on to Mahrez

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By John Percy

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

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