Leicester star Riyad Mahrez has reportedly put in a transfer request after emerging as a target for Manchester City on the eve of the transfer deadline.
City are understood to be interested in the Algeria international and Sky Sports News reported on Tuesday that Mahrez had asked to leave the Foxes.
But any deal for the 2016 PFA Player of the Year would not be cheap. Leicester do not feel they need to sell their prize asset and it would take a fee in excess of the £75million (Dh389.4m) Liverpool recently paid for Virgil van Dijk to even consider it.
It is understood City have reportedly made a £55million (Dh285.5m) offer for Mahrez, although Leicester say they have not received any offers for the 26-year-old this month but their stance has not changed since last summer, when they rejected interest from Roma.
An injury to winger Leroy Sane, who has been ruled out for at least six weeks with ankle ligament damage, may have prompted City’s late interest.
Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, was named on Arsenal’s bench against Swansea on Tuesday night despite reports suggesting the France striker has agreed an £18m move to Chelsea.
Giroud’s future appeared increasingly likely to lie away from Arsenal after reports that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had arrived at the club’s training ground on Tuesday afternoon to finalise his transfer from Borussia Dortmund, who are determined to land a replacement before allowing the striker to leave.
Chelsea are favourites to sign Giroud on Wednesday, while their Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi is reported to be heading to Dortmund to complete the triangle.
City completed the club-record £57m signing of defender Aymeric Laporte on Tuesday.
The fee eclipses the £54m City paid for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015 and also makes him the second-most expensive defender in the world after Liverpool’s £75m signing of Van Dijk.
City have also signed English midfielder Jack Harrison from New York City on a three-and-a-half-year deal before sending him out on loan to Championship side Middlesbrough for the rest of the season.
“I can’t wait to get started over here,” Harrison said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time with New York City and I’d like to thank Patrick Vieira and his coaching staff for helping me develop as a player.”
“I’ve really improved and playing regularly in the MLS, but now I’m looking forward to testing myself in England. Middlesbrough are a good club, with Premier League experience and they’re in the mix for a return via the playoffs this season.”
The French defender completed his switch from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday after City paid his £57million buy-out clause.
He joins a club 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and still alive in three cup competitions under the inspirational leadership of former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola.
The 23-year-old, who has signed a five-year contract, told City TV: “I have always followed him, when he was with other clubs as well. I have always been fascinated by him, especially when I have had the chance to watch him.
“We both have the same style of play, so that’s great. Obviously having Pep Guardiola as manager of your team changes lots of things. He is a very prestigious manager and we must take advantage of that to learn and to improve.”
Laporte will add strength to a central defensive department which has appeared light due to captain Vincent Kompany‘s fitness issues and the inconsistencies of Eliaquim Mangala. He will challenge John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, who have formed an effective partnership this season, for a place.
Guardiola said: “He is a young player, 23, 24 years old. He is left-footed, central defender, he has played since a young age in La Liga, on the biggest stages.
“He is strong in the air, fast, good quality with the pass, so I am delighted, happy and grateful for what the club has done.”
City previously tried to sign Laporte, who is a France Under-21 international, soon after Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016 but the player did not think the move was right at that time.
Guardiola said: “In that time it was not possible because he decided to remain in Bilbao.
“We spoke with the club and said we needed a centre-back in summertime, but we still have a lot of games to play and decided to try and bring him right now.
“Our summer window will now be easier because this is already done.”
Guardiola said he did not know if the deal was completed in time for Laporte to be available to face West Brom at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday but feels he is physically ready.
He said: “He is fit, he has been playing the last period so I think he is ready.
“Of course he has to adapt, the Premier League is special in many senses, but I think he is intelligent and he will read the situation.”
Manchester City have launched an audacious £60 million (Dh311.5m) move to sign Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City before Wednesday’s transfer deadline, according to Goal.
Mahrez’s name was first reported by British media on Tuesday lunchtime and City are said to be working hard to strike a shock deal for the Algerian.
City insiders believe that any possible move will be extremely difficult to conclude, but feel their chances would be boosted significantly if Mahrez forces the issue and demands that the Foxes sell him.
Mahrez has been determined to join a top European club for some time and it is understood he will soon hold talks with Leicester to make the case that they should let him join City this month.
Sources close to the player say a £60m bid was lodged on Tuesday.
City officials have been working on a third potential signing, possibly a forward, at the same time as negotiating deals for Aymeric Laporte and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.
And following Leroy Sane’s injury at Cardiff on Sunday, one which will keep him out for six or seven weeks, the Premier League leaders have stepped up their pursuit.
Pep Guardiola insisted during his Tuesday press conference that there was a “95 per cent or 99 per cent chance” that City would do no further business this window, but sources indicate he is hopeful of bringing in Mahrez – but only if the forward pushes for it.
The league leaders still hope to do business this month after ramping up their transfer plans, having missed out on Alexis Sanchez to neighbours and rivals Manchester United.
The Blues are determined to be more decisive in the market, and have also decided they do not want to be too active during the summer window.