Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare has backtracked on his previous claim that the club were yet to receive any offers for wantaway star Riyad Mahrez, confirming that AS Roma did indeed submit a low bid for a player also tracked by Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur that was "politely declined".
Mahrez has publicly outlined his intention to leave the King Power Stadium this summer in pursuit of a fresh challenge, with Arsene Wenger admitting his interest in a potential deal. The Algeria international also emerged as a key target for Serie A runners-up Roma, who are in the market for a new winger after selling Mohamed Salah to Liverpool for £36.9m ($48m) last month.
The Leicester Mercury reported that the Giallorossi were plotting a second €30m proposal for Mahrez after failing with an initial approach said to be worth a lowly €23m.
The player, who signed a new four-year contract last August that saw his earnings increase to around £100,000-a-week, is apparently willing to take a substantial wage cut in order to play Champions League football at the Stadio Olimpico.
Shakespeare, who wants Mahrez to stay in the East Midlands, quickly put the brakes on such speculation by insisting that no formal offers had been tabled, a position he clarified during a press conference held in Hong Kong in advance of Leicester's Premier League Asia Trophy final clash with Liverpool on Saturday (22 July).
"I think I was quoted on the last press day that there was no bids," he said, per PA Sport. "There was a bid from Roma, I was told afterwards, so I would like to put the record straight on that one. It was politely declined on the basis that it was a low offer. Of what that offer is, don't ask me how much because I don't know and I don't get involved in that."
In addition to Roma, Arsenal could now face competition from their north London rivals in the race for Mahrez. The Evening Standard said on Thursday that Tottenham had "asked to be kept informed" of his position, but would likely not throw their hat into the ring until Leicester lowered their hefty £50m asking price.
The Foxes were also said to be chasing Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny as they look to add to the respective signings of Harry Maguire, Vicente Iborra and Eldin Jakupovic. However, The Sun claimed earlier this week that the Egypt international rejected a transfer after a £10m fee had been agreed between the two clubs.
According to The Mirror, Shakespeare responded with a simple "no comment" when asked about those rumours on Friday.