Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has suggested that the club are already planning for life without midfielder Youri Tielemans, who continues to be linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
The Belgian has entered the final 18 months of his contract and has been in talks over an extension for months now, with no positive resolution in sight.
Arsenal are understood to be keen on bringing Tielemans to the Emirates Stadium this month, while Liverpool and United have been tipped to move for the 24-year-old in the summer.
However, sources have confirmed to 90min that Leicester have not yet given up all hope of convincing Tielemans to stay, although they are increasingly concerned that they are facing an impossible battle.
“You always have to [plan for life without players], that is key,” Rodgers said of Tielemans’ future (via The Telegraph). “You always have to be looking ahead, that’s important.
“Youri is at an age and at a stage in his contract where he has to ensure he looks at every option. I would love it to be here at Leicester, that is natural, but I understand it’s a very short career.
“Once the player is committed, focused and professional it’s never a worry for me. With Youri you can see his joy of being here, he loves being here and you have to respect these guys’ careers are short.
“If we are going to lose one we have to be ready for the next one to come in.”
Arsenal are looking at a whole host of midfield targets in January, with manager Mikel Arteta concerned about the lack of depth in that position in his squad. Juventus’ Arthur Melo and Lyon’s Bruno Guimaraes are two of his top targets, alongside Tielemans.
Rodgers confessed that he understands why Tielemans is keen to evaluate his future, adding: “For players it’s about ambition, the challenge and sometimes it’s about a different environment. We have seen it before many times.
“Teams have won the Champions League and the player will move on. That’s the nature of it. For me, I can only worry about keeping improving him as a player, keeping him focused and letting everything else be taken care of.”