Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri's primary objective this season was to avoid relegation after their narrow escape last year, he has said in an interview as his team stand seven points clear atop the Premier League.

The 64-year-old Italian, who has taken Leicester to within four wins of their first top-flight league title in his first season at the club, told U.S. website The Players Tribune he could not have imagined what they have achieved.

"I remember my first meeting with the chairman when I arrived at Leicester City. He sat down with me and said, 'Claudio, this is a very important year for the club. It is very important for us to stay in the Premier League. We have to stay safe.'

"My reply was, 'Okay, sure. We'll work hard on the training ground and try to achieve this.'

"Forty points. That was the goal. That was the total we needed to give our fans another season of Premier League football.

"Back then, I did not dream that I would open the paper on April 4 and see Leicester City at the top of the table with 69 points. Last year on this same day, the club was at the bottom of the table. Unbelievable."

Leicester were stranded seven points from the safety zone a year ago but, having beaten Southampton 1-0 on Sunday after second-placed Tottenham Hotspur drew at Liverpool on Saturday, Leicester moved seven points clear with six matches to play.