Why Leeds United should go back in the market for Demarai Gray
The Telegraph (h/t Leeds Live) mentioned the 24-year-old as a potential target for the Premier League newcomers but a deal failed to materialise before the international summer deadline.
The report doesn’t mention whether Leeds are planning to make a renewed attempt to sign the former England U-21 international but a move to Elland Road certainly can’t be ruled out, with Gray having less than a year remaining on his contract at Leicester.
Demarai Gray rose through the youth ranks of Birmingham City and made his senior debut in the Championship during the 2013-14 campaign. He made 78 appearances for the Blues in all competitions, scoring 8 goals, before earning a move to the top-flight with Leicester City in January 2016.
Gray made 12 league appearances towards the back end of the 2015-16 campaign as the Foxes upset the odds to win the Premier League title under Claudio Ranieri. However, the versatile winger has struggled for consistency in East Midlands, registering just 13 goals and 17 assists in 168 appearances for Leicester.
The 24-year-old was a regular fixture in the starting XI under former manager Claude Puel but has found himself out of favour following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. Gray started only thrice in the PL last season and is yet to make a single league appearance for the Foxes so far this term (at the time of writing).
Gray would add more depth to Leeds’ attack
Leeds have Jack Harrison and Helder Costa as their first-choice wide attacking duo, with Raphinha expected to be gradually integrated into Marcelo Bielsa’s plans following his move to Elland Road from Stade Rennes in the summer.
The Whites, though, lack much depth and experience beyond those three players. Ian Poveda only has a handful of appearances in his senior career while Stuart Dallas, though essentially a winger by trade, has largely been used as a left-back by Bielsa. Ezgjan Alioski was a key part of the club’s plans in the Championship but is yet to feature prominently in the Premier League.
Suffice to say, the West Yorkshire giants can certainly do with a bit more cover down the flanks, and going back in the market for Demarai Gray in January would be a smart idea. The 24-year-old already boasts 132 top-flight appearances for Leicester, meaning that his plentiful PL experience would be a massive boost to a promoted side like Leeds.
The former England U-21 star is predominantly a left-winger by trade but he’s versatile enough to play anywhere across the final third. He looks more than capable of offering Bielsa with some valuable cover in multiple areas, thus potentially making him a useful squad player at Elland Road.
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Truth be told, Demarai Gray hasn’t really managed to deliver on his enormous potential at Leicester City, as evident from his lacklustre tally of goals and assists. However, the good part is that he still has his best years ahead of him and Leeds United could have a quality attacker on their hands if Bielsa manages to add more end product to his game.
With Gray left out of Leicester’s Europa League squad and his contract in East Midlands set to expire in 2021, the Whites should definitely fancy their chances of nabbing the winger in a cut-price deal in January.