Riyad Mahrez a summer target for Barcelona but Leicester City will demand in excess of £40 million

John Percy
Riyad Mahrez was last season's PFA Player of the Year - Rex Features

Barcelona are ready to offer Riyad Mahrez a dream move to La Liga, but Leicester will demand over £40million for their star winger.

Mahrez is a target for the Spanish giants this summer and is understood to be aware of the interest ahead of a likely bid at the end of the season.

The PFA Player of the Year has never hidden his desire to eventually play for Barcelona, alongside his idol Lionel Messi, and Leicester are bracing themselves for an official move ahead of the next campaign.

But the current Premier League champions are in no mood to be bullied by the European heavyweights and will ask for a substantial fee if the interest is stepped up into a formal bid.

Mahrez signed a new £100,000 a week contract in August and the deal has no release clause, which means Leicester can effectively name their price for the 26-year-old.

Riyad Mahrez has rediscovered his best form since Craig Shakespeare took over at Leicester Credit: PA

Last summer Leicester received inquiries from Chelsea and Arsenal, following their remarkable title triumph, and at the time the club were determined to use Raheem Sterling’s £49million move to Manchester City as the benchmark to any deal.

Mahrez has over three years remaining on his contract so Leicester stand to receive far more than the £30million they banked after N’Golo Kante’s move to Chelsea in July, if Mahrez does move.

Barcelona are preparing for a summer of change with manager Luis Enrique stepping down at the end of the season. His assistant Juan Carlos Unzue is seen as a strong contender to replace him while there has also been support for Seville’s Jorge Sampaoli.

Their interest in Mahrez has been consistent for the past 12 months, however, and Barcelona will test Leicester’s resolve to keep a player who cost them just £450,000 from Le Havre.

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When asked about Barcelona last season, he said: “It's not my goal or my dream, but obviously everyone wants to play with Messi. One day, maybe. Why not?

“I always watch Barcelona on the TV at home because I like how they play. To me, Messi is the best of the best. You can’t say anything to him, he’s the boss.”

Leicester and Mahrez still have to plenty to play for this season, though, with the club preparing for a Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid next month.

With ten league games left, they remain in danger of relegation yet there has been a drastic improvement in results since the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri. Under Craig Shakespeare Leicester have won three league games in a row to move away from the bottom three.

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