Leicester City are reportedly preparing for Barcelona to make their move for Riyad Mahrez this summer, and are resigned to losing him.
The surprise Premier League leaders are believed to be set to offer the playmaker a new contract, even though he signed a new four-year deal worth £35,000-per-week last summer.
Although the Foxes are ready to double his wages, it is unlikely to be enough to persuade him to snub interest from the Catalan giants and remain at the King Power Stadium. A fresh £75,000-a-week package, similar to the one agreed by Jamie Vardy, won’t convince Mahrez to stay with Claudio Ranieri’s men, according to The Mirror.
The 24-year-old has emerged as a key player in the club’s success this season, as they continue to lead the way in the league with 12 games remaining in the campaign.
Although Barcelona are expected to face significant competition in the summer, it is believed that the Nou Camp is his preferred option even though he is unlikely to enjoy the same amount of playing time as he has done under Ranieri this year.
The new deal would protect Leicester’s interests and ensure that they get a fee of around £20-£25m, and although Chelsea have been tipped to offer more, the appeal of playing in Spain is expected to be the defining factor in the chase for Mahrez.
It remains to be seen how big a loss the Algerian international would be for Leicester, as they will be buoyed by the number of key players that have emerged this season.
In addition, their success will potentially allow them to build for the future with a higher calibre of player keen on making the move to join them, and so they will likely assess the market carefully to identify a replacement for Mahrez should he opt to leave.