Claudio Ranieri confident Leonardo Ulloa will stay despite Alaves links

Leicester are determined to keep wantaway striker Leonardo Ulloa with boss Claudio Ranieri saying he is confident he will stay.

Ulloa, 30, handed in a transfer request on Thursday with an offer on the table from Spanish side Alaves.

Press Association Sport reports that the bid is nowhere near the Foxes' asking price for their former record signing and the Premier League champions are prepared to fight to keep him.

Ranieri said: "Always I said I don't want to keep players who are not happy but at the top there is the club. Three of us have to be happy, club, me and the player.

"I like Leo because he is a fantastic professional, a good player. I told him my impression. Now they are speaking and I think at the end he will stay with us. I want him.

"He's a striker, I only have so many strikers. There is only [Islam] Slimani to hold the ball up and I need two strikers who are very similar. I can understand, of course, because until two years ago he was used to playing every match.

"Two years ago he was the goal scorer of the team. Last season I started with Shinji [Okazaki] and [Jamie] Vardy because he was a little late on the fitness and they made something special."

Ulloa is out of Sunday's trip to Southampton with a thigh injury which has kept him sidelined for the last two weeks.

He has started just twice this season having made just seven starts last term as he helped the Foxes win a shock Premier League title.

It remains unlikely Ulloa will sign a new contract as Press Association Sport reports that he feels undervalued at the club.

Ulloa, who signed from Brighton for £8 million in 2014, has 18 months left on his deal but money is not an issue as he wants to play more regularly.

But Leicester are prepared to sell defender Luis Hernandez, who only joined in the summer and has made four league appearances, with the 27-year-old in Malaga to finalise a £1.75m deal.

Ranieri added: "We have given permission to go to speak and we are waiting on what happens. If he wants to go, yes, he can go."

Ulloa and Hernandez will not feature at Southampton, but Ranieri dismissed any fears Ulloa would refuse to play to force a move away from the champions.

Dimitri Payet has been accused by West Ham boss Slaven Bilic of effectively going on strike, but Ranieri believes Ulloa will remain professional.

"No, I don't have this problem so far," the Foxes boss said. "I don't know future -- there are some rules and the players can't refuse. The players and managers, everybody must respect these rules.

"We spoke so many times to Leo and have a very good relationship. He must understand if he goes we need another striker. If we want to buy another striker that means a lot of money. There is a balance to the market. If I lose him then someone must arrive. Also it is important the club is happy with the money we receive.

"I can arrange something without Leo but the club can't live without money. Leo is a very good player. If someone wants him, they must pay the money. If he stays he will be OK. He is a professional."