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Ranieri: "Italy? I want to retire at Leicester City"

The manager of the Premier League leaders confirmed this will be his final job. "If the owner is happy with me, I am happy with him."

Claudio Ranieri, Danny Drinkwater and N'golo Kanté.
Rui VieiraAP

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri ruled himself out of the running for the job of Italy head coach on Thursday and said he hoped to stay at the Premier League leaders for years to come.

The 64-year-old Italian said this week that Leicester, the sensation of the season and five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur with eight games remaining, would be his last club before retirement.

Asked whether it would also be his last job, he told reporters ahead of Saturday's away game at Crystal Palace: "Yes, I'd like [it to be]. If it's possible, I want to stay here a long time."

Italy head coach Antonio Conte said on Tuesday he will be stepping down after Euro 2016, increasing speculation that he will join Premier League club Chelsea next season. The 46-year-old former Juventus coach is contracted to Italy until the end of the June 10-July 10 championship.

Ranieri signed a three-year deal when he arrived at Leicester last July but media reports say a get-out clause allows the Thai-owned club to let him go without huge compensation.

Shinji Okazaki celebrates scoring the winner against Newcastle.
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Shinji Okazaki celebrates scoring the winner against Newcastle.TIM KEETONEFE

It also left Ranieri free to accept other offers. "No team can change my own mind," said the former Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Valencia, Juventus, Inter Milan and Monaco manager when asked about the Italy job. "There is so much to do, we are just starting to build," he said of Leicester. "If the owner is happy with me, I am happy with him."

Ranieri started the season focusing on Leicester's Premier League survival and has seen the unfashionable club progress from 5,000-1 outsiders to title frontrunners in what would be one of the biggest upsets in English football history.

Leicester, who staged a late escape from relegation last season under Nigel Pearson, are now 11 points clear of third-placed Arsenal and 12 ahead of Manchester City, who both have a game in hand.

Midfielder Danny Drinkwater and top scorer Jamie Vardy were named in England's 24-man squad for friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands this month and Ranieri suggested that was a mixed blessing.

"I start to be worried now. I'd like them to be with me but I understand," he said. "From the beginning I said we have to save the team, we have to build a foundation and also the winning mentality. This is another little step, some players who didn't go to the national team now start to go there, then it is important they get more confidence."


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