Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri insists that Wayne Rooney is a champion, but he would not get into his squad owing to a competition for places. The Champions travel to Manchester United on Saturday (24 September), as they look to get back on track after an underwhelming start to their title defence.

Rooney has come under a lot of criticism from the press and pundits for his failure to live up to expectations thus far in the season. There have been calls to Jose Mourinho to drop him from the squad, as he is hindering the progress of other players around him. The 30-year-old has been deployed in midfield so far, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting up front.

When asked if Rooney would make his team, Ranieri said, as quoted by the Express, "He is an amazing player. He's a champion. But I love my players – and I wouldn't change my players with anybody else." The statement comes after Islam Slimani scored a brace against Burnley on his debut, offering a proper alternative to Jamie Vardy with his presence on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Ranieri also talked down his feud with Jose Mourinho, stating that he would have a wine with him after the game should he be interested. Mourinho took over from Ranieri at Chelsea in 2004, going on to win two back-to-back titles, before being sacked in 2007.

The Portuguese manager is under pressure after losing three games on the trot, before scraping a win past Northampton in the EFL Cup.

"It's prehistoric, not now," said Ranieri of the bitterness. "It was a long time ago, I'm OK. He's a great manager and a fantastic person. Maybe he will offer me a good red wine. I love red wine and if he offers I will go and drink it with him. Mourinho is a fantastic manager, intelligent, clever. He is OK."

Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri watches his team from the touchline Getty Images