English Premiership

Aliens more likely than Leicester repeat - Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri (Getty Images)
Claudio Ranieri (Getty Images)

Leicester - Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri joked on Thursday that there is more chance of aliens landing in London than there is of his side successfully defending their Premier League title this season.

Leicester defied odds of 5,000-1 to win last season's title and on the eve of their new campaign, which begins with a trip to promoted Hull City on Saturday, Ranieri insisted that lightning would not strike twice.

"It's easier for ET to come to Piccadilly Circus," he told a press conference at Leicester's King Power Stadium.

"I work to be safe (from relegation) and continue to build a team. Anything more that happens is fantastic.

"It is normal that we can't win the league. For this reason I say the bookmakers must do 6,000-1. It is impossible. It is more difficult than last season."

Ranieri, who signed a new four-year contract this week, has seen all of the Premier League's heavyweights strengthen during the off-season.

Manchester United and Manchester City have each spent around £150 million on new players.

United have notably acquired Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with City bringing in a raft of promising young players including England centre-back John Stones and Germany winger Leroy Sane.

Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have also opened their cheque books and Ranieri expects the battle for the 2016-17 crown to be ferocious.

"Of course they are stronger because they can't make a mistake another year," said the 64-year-old Italian, whose side finished 10 points clear of second-place Arsenal in May.

"They lost one season and in the life of those big teams that can happen, but altogether it only happens once in a lifetime.

"I am very curious. All the world is curious (about) what will happen with Leicester. I am very curious to see where we finish.

"Of course the big teams are ready to fight for the title. We are ready to defend our title, but we know it is a difficult gap.

"Last season we made something unbelievable. But now the big teams will come back, I am sure."

Ranieri reported a clean bill of health ahead of the trip to the KC Stadium, where Ahmed Musa, Nampalys Mendy and Bartosz Kapustka will all be in contention to make their competitive debuts.

Riyad Mahrez continues to be linked with a move to Arsenal, but Ranieri is confident that last season's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year will stay put.

"I don't know, who is interested? Tell me if there is one," Ranieri said.

"Riyad will stay with us. I say: 'Hey, keep going, we have to improve, also you have to improve your experience in the Champions League, it's totally different.'"

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