Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri hopes Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante will be given a warm reception when he returns to his old stomping ground for the first time since leaving the English champions.
Kante, who was instrumental in delivering Leicester the league title last season, joined Chelsea in the transfer window, and will return to the King Power Stadium as the two sides clash in the third round of the League Cup later on Tuesday.
Ranieri urged fans to harbour no ill will over Kante’s decision to quit Leicester.
“I am very happy and I will give him a very warm welcome back,” Ranieri told British media. “I am sure also our fans they must appreciate what he did last season and give him a warm welcome.
“I will be very happy if our fans clap him at the beginning and afterwards he is an enemy.”
Despite losing Kante, Leicester managed to retain the majority of their title-winning squad including Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, who were linked with moves away.
“They (fans) must understand that …it is difficult to say no. For this reason I say thank you to Jamie Vardy and his family, and to Riyad when they decided to stay here. For us it was important to maintain everybody.”
Former Chelsea manager Ranieri also backed current boss Antonio Conte to deliver silverware at Stamford Bridge after an impressive start to the season.
“He (Conte) is a winner, but of course he needs time. The reality here is different than in Italy and his job is bigger now. But …I think he can lift some trophies.”
(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)