Claudio Raineri is desperately hoping to not have to go back to being the "Tinkerman". He led Leicester City to last season's Premier League title with an almost never-changing starting lineup, and while he's lost N'Golo Kanté already from that group, he's been desperately hoping to keep both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Vardy had flirted with Arsenal before signing a new contract, but Mahrez refused the club's offer last month. Despite that, Leicester remain staunchly adamant that they will not sell (certainly not for anything other than a bid "well in excess of £50m"), especially not this close to the new season, and remain in negotiations with their star midfielder (perhaps agreeing to include buyout clause in the process, as per Mahrez's wishes).
In any case, this had hardly concerned us since the 25-year-old was linked most strongly with Arsenal, but the chance meeting with an aspiring sports journalist (armed with his Twitter account) put Chelsea firmly in the center of the Mahrez rumor mill. However, according to the Guardian and several other major outlets, the reigning PFA Player of the Year "has accepted" that he will not be allowed to move from Leicester this summer, after meeting with the club's leadership recently.
There's no timeline attached to this meeting, but ahead of last weekend's Community Shield match, Ranieri had told the assembled media at his press conference that Mahrez had already made his decision to stay.
"He will stay with us, we want to keep all of our players."
"Chelsea paid Kante's clause, but Mahrez doesn't have a clause so he will stay. Yes, he told me he will stay with us."
-Claudio Ranieri; source: Get West London
The Mahrez-to-Chelsea shenanigans were a fun little distraction, but it was never really going to be more than that. Presumable, this puts any further rumors to bed. Unless ... can he play center back?