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Ranieri talks about admiration and summer swoop for Deeney

Claudio Ranieri has spoken for the first time about his sustained attempt to sign Troy Deeney in the summer.

Leicester made Deeney their number one transfer target after winning the Premier League, testing Watford’s resolve with three bids, the highest of which was £25m. Chief executive Scott Duxbury turned them down flat and made it clear to the Foxes that their captain was not for sale.

Chief executive Scott Duxbury
Chief executive Scott Duxbury

We understand the move to the Foxes and the prospect of Champions League football interested Deeney, who moved his family back to the Midlands this summer, but it was made perfectly clear to the striker he was not going anywhere. After being reminded of the club’s ambition, Deeney signed a new bumper contract reportedly worth £100k a week and Leicester turned their sights elsewhere.

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“I am not disappointed now because we have Slimani,” Ranieri said this week of the Deeney bid. “Deeney, for me, is a very good player but not only for me but for Watford. He is an intelligent player, a hard worker and knows football very well.

“He can score a goal, make a last pass as a No 10 – he is a good player. I don’t know [if they would have signed Slimani had they landed Deeney], it’s difficult to say.”

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Deeney spoke about the tough choice he faced in an interview with the Sunday Times.

“I could have gone to Leicester, the champions, five-year contract, sat back because they’ve got Vardy, they’ve got Mahrez,” he said. “And I could have scored 30 goals, finished third in the league and got to the quarter-final of the Champions League. Unbelievable — but it wouldn’t have bettered what they’ve already done. I’m going to say it for the first time, I want to be Troy Deeney that’s led Watford to Europe.”