Claude Puelruled Riyad Mahrez out of his plans for Saturday’s home game with Swansea City – then told him to clear his head before returning from his self-imposed exile.
The controversial Algerian ace missed training for the third time this week when he failed to report to the club’s Belvoir Road training ground yesterday.
Sources close to the player say he is ‘very depressed,’ and in a ‘fragile state of mind.’
Puel refused to reveal if he has had any contact with the 26-year-old since Mahrez splapped in a transfer request on Tuesday, before going AWOL for his side’s 2-1 defeat at Everton in midweek.
However Puel revealed he will welcome his wayward star back when the time is right.
He said: “Riyad will not be available for this game. I can say the club took this decision to do what is best for Leicester.
“We need to respect this decision and understand it is the best decision for the squad.
“We will assess Riyad when he has cleared his head. We know the period after the transfer window is always difficult. It is a tough situation for us to manage.
“I hope for Riyad he can clear his head and come back with us because he is a vital player for us and crucial to our play.”
Leicester’s players were less conciliatory and are said to be livid with their teammate after he plunged them into the spotlight for the second time this season by making it clear he wants a move.
The miffed Algerian ace is seething at the Foxes refusal to accept Manchester City’s£50million plus a player offer for him.
Although the Frenchman said club protocol meant he could not reveal when the 26-year-old would be in the right frame of mind to return, he believes there is still a future at the club for Mahrez.
“I think his place is in our squad with his team-mates. We need to stay united after all this. This is a situation we need to manage of course.
“I have a good relationship with Riyad and now we have to manage this situation and move forward.He is a fantastic player and the first priority is for him to find the good feeling and he can enjoy his football.
“We will meet with his side and the club and not in the public.”