Riyad Mahrez and Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri was always confident that Riyad Mahrez would stay at Leicester Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has revealed his delight at Riyad Mahrez's decision to commit his future to the 2015/16 Premier League winners.

The indispensable PFA Player of the Year was subject to persistent speculation linking with him a summer exit amid recent French reports of a renewed £35m ($45.9m) offer from Arsenal, yet he eventually chose to follow teammate and fellow Gunners target Jamie Vardy by signing a new four-year contract.

Such a decision came as an enormous boost for Leicester, who last weekend lost 2-1 away at newly-promoted crisis club Hull City and in the process became the first English top-flight champions to open the season with a defeat since Arsenal back in 1989.

The absence of pivotal midfield engine N'Golo Kante, who resisted the urge to stay put and joined Antonio Conte's Chelsea in a £30m summer deal, was all too evident at the KCOM Stadium, but Mahrez's pleasing show of loyalty will give rise to hope that the Foxes are not simply doomed to an imminent and painful regression.

"I'm very pleased, but I was so sure," Ranieri was quoted as saying by BBC Radio Leicester at a press conference held before the visit of Arsenal on Saturday evening, a match that will see uncompromising centre-back Robert Huth return from a three-match suspension.

"The speculation, first of all Vardy after Mahrez, we lost only Kante. Now it's important to concentrate together for the next match. It's a very important match on Saturday."

When asked if he ever felt any anxiety regarding a potential Mahrez departure, the manager added: "No, of course. We spoke together last season and also in pre-season and he told me he wanted to stay... I wanted also Kante but it's finished. The story is finished."

Foxes keep hold of spine of last year's team

In addition to securing new recruits in the shape of Ahmed Musa, Nampalys Mendy, Bartosz Kapustka, Ron-Robert Zieler and Luis Hernandez, Leicester have demonstrated a real eagerness to tie-down several key first-team performers. Kasper Schmeichel, captain Wes Morgan and Andy King are among the other players to have put pen to paper on fresh terms in the East Midlands and Ranieri subsequently confirmed that influential central midfielder Danny Drinkwater was "very close" to following suit.

Also on the agenda during Thursday's media call was Jeff Schlupp. Sky Sports have suggested that the unhappy winger is now contemplating submitting a formal transfer request after Leicester rejected a second offer for his services from West Brom believed to be worth in the region of £12m. However, Ranieri claims that he too wants to remain at the King Power Stadium.

"He stays with us," he added. "He is very happy. Jeff wants to stay".