LONDON (Reuters) – Defender Harry Maguire said Leicester City players would welcome back Riyad Mahrez even though the midfielder was left out of the team for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City after missing training and trying to force a move away from the club.
The Algerian midfielder is unhappy at the Premier League club’s refusal to sanction a deadline-day move to Manchester City and was also omitted from the team for Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Everton.
Despite British media reports that some Leicester players disapproved of Mahrez’s public show of defiance, Maguire said there was no ill feeling from his team mates towards the player who is likely to face a heavy fine for missing training.
“The boys will welcome Riyad back and he’s no doubt one of our best players, said Maguire.
“It’s for him, his agent and the club to deal with, but we would welcome him back.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel called for a show of unity before Saturday’s game, adding that he would be happy to reintegrate his midfielder for whom City were reported to have bid in excess of $84.72 million.
The bid was some $40 million short of Leicester’s valuation for a player who has been a constant in the side for 18 months.
“All of our management with Riyad will be between the club, the player and myself,” said Puel. “It will be dealt with inside the club. I think it’s important that we stay united about this situation.
“I think we should give him our feeling, he is a valuable and crucial player for us who gave his best for Leicester – for the fans and the team. I am sure he can come back with the same feeling. In the beginning we need to understand and after help him to come back quickly.”
The 26-year-old has yet to say when he will consider returning and, after Saturday’s game, Puel offered no comment on when Mahrez was likely to play for Leicester again.