Ranieri tells Leicester title heroes they could leave and regret it

Claudio Ranieri has urged Leicester City's stars to stay for another season and warned it could harm their careers if they leave the Premier League champions now.

Claudio Ranieri Leicester City Premier League

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri Source: AAP

Tottenham Hotspur's inability to beat Chelsea last week handed the Foxes their first-ever top-flight league title.

The city of Leicester has partied ever since, yet there were no signs of a hangover on the weekend, with Everton picked off 3-1 before the Premier League trophy was presented.

A packed-out King Power Stadium celebrated the greatest day in the club's 132-year history, and Ranieri loved every second of it, from world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli singing next to him before the match to being doused in champagne in the press conference after it.

The Italian will keep his winner's medal at home to look at on a rainy day and say to himself "Heh, come on man, balance" - something that may be needed at times next term.

Bookmakers have the champions as seventh favourites for the 2016-2017 title and, while accepting it will be a different proposition, Ranieri hopes to still be able to call upon the likes of Riyad Mahrez, N'Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy.

"I want to enjoy but I feel it is possible maybe to keep all the players," Ranieri said.

"It is important for us but it is important also for them because they don't know the Champions League.

"If they go away, it is not good for them. It is much better if they improve another year here and then go wherever they want.

"But I have said so many times if one player comes to me and says 'Gaffer, I want to go', then I leave him to go because it is okay."

Ranieri speaks about his players like a proud father and has clearly cultivated a special atmosphere at the King Power Stadium.

The City boss wants to keep the same attitude, spirit and concentration next term - attributes that will be vital when they play UEFA Champions League football for the first time.

Early exits from the Capital One Cup and FA Cup helped pave their way to Premier League glory, so balancing European and domestic exertions will be a tough new challenge for Leicester.

"I am confident because this team two years ago won the Championship and the Championship is very, very tough," Ranieri said.

"They run all the year and then I hope we can find good players and make some replacements because next season there will be three cups and the Premier League.

"It will be very important to be able to make good changes and give some rest to the players.

"I believe when there will be the draw for the (Champions League) group, other teams will want to play against us because we are in Europe for the first time and they think we are underdogs.

"We are underdogs but we are dangerous. Underdogs can be dangerous teams."

Meanwhile, Leicester head of recruitment Steve Walsh has agreed a new deal at the club.

The Foxes assistant manager has been credited with helping discover the bargain buys which have seen them storm to their first top flight title in their 132-year history.

New PFA player of the year Riyad Mahrez, bought for $782,515 from Le Havre in 2014 and midfielder N'Golo Kante, who was an unknown before signing from Caen last season, have starred this term.

Fellow assistant manager Craig Shakespeare is also happy with his new terms and with Walsh confirming they just need to put pen to paper.

"We've not signed but it's all agreed," he said.

Vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha added: 'I think small things (are needed) but both have agreed. They did a brilliant job here and happy to do that."

Ranieri's Foxes wrapped up the title last week and will head into the Champions League next season as one of the top seeds - but Walsh warned it will become tougher to unearth unknown talent.

"There's so much information out there, there's so much DVD evidence, so it does make it more and more difficult," he said.

"It's not just upon me, because I've got people working for me, bringing information and we've got to act on it. Obviously then decisions have got to be made with the manager, who can decide.

"It's about knowledge. You can't know every player in the world, that's impossible. But if you target certain leagues, which we do, and you try and find the better players within that league, and then try and find out about them as much as they can.

"Once the season starts you've got until January to make a decision, you don't need to make a snap decision. So if you really believe in a player, get all the DVD evidence clipped up, but then get out and see them."

Kante, bought for a reported $10.95 million, was also nominated for the PFA Player of the Year after his stunning debut season and Walsh knows he has excelled.

He added: "I keep telling the same joke over and over again. No matter who we're playing we play three in midfield, we play (Danny) Drinkwater in the middle as a holding player and we play Kante either side."

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5 min read
Published 9 May 2016 at 7:30am
By Nick Mashiter, Simon Peach
Source: PA Sport