Crystal Palace completing a cut-price £1.8m swoop of this Leicester star would be a smart coup

Demarai Gray has fallen down the pecking order under Brendan Rodgers this season (Getty Images)
Demarai Gray has fallen down the pecking order under Brendan Rodgers this season (Getty Images)

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Why Crystal Palace should eye cut-price Demarai Gray swoop in January

According to the Daily Mail, Crystal Palace have expressed an interest in signing out-of-favour Leicester City winger Demarai Gray to bolster their attack.

The 24-year-old’s contract at the King Power Stadium is due to expire at the end of the season. He is unlikely to be offered fresh terms by the East Midlands outfit. With Gray not in Brendan Rodgers’ plans, the Foxes are willing to sanction a sale for a knockdown price of £1.8million to avoid losing him for free in the summer. (h/t Daily Mail)

Demarai Gray (R) scored the second goal against Sheffield United last week (Getty Images)
Demarai Gray (R) in action against Sheffield United (Getty Images)

Gray’s decline at Leicester

Demarai Gray joined Leicester from Birmingham City in the Championship back in January 2016 as one of the hottest young talents in English football. He was a part of the Foxes’ historic title-winning squad in 2015-16, featuring 12 times in that campaign under former manager Claudio Ranieri. 

The winger went on to establish himself as a key squad player under Claude Puel but never really managed to translate his potential into meaningful goal returns. As a result, Gray lost his status as a regular fixture in the side following the appointment of Rodgers at the helm. 

The 24-year-old found himself restricted to just three starts in the Premier League last term. He has found himself further down the pecking order this season. Gray has played only twice for Leicester in all competitions so far. An 18-minute substitute cameo against Crystal Palace in December is his only involvement in the league.

Demarai Gray has been with Leicester since 2016
Demarai Gray has been with Leicester since 2016 (Getty Images)

More depth and quality?

Crystal Palace have already grabbed the headlines in the January window with the capture of highly-rated striker Jean Philippe Mateta from Mainz. The Frenchman has joined Roy Hodgson’s side on an 18-month loan deal with an obligation to buy included in the agreement.

Mateta’s arrival is expected to help the Eagles get rid of the misfiring Christian Benteke, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Having said that, however, Palace should be open to market opportunities to bolster their attack even further with an eye on the future. Adding more depth to the wide attacking department would definitely make a lot of sense.

Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have been the undisputed go-to options for Hodgson on the flanks over the past several seasons. However, the Eagles don’t really have too many quality alternatives to call upon beyond their regular options. Eberechi Eze has established himself on the left this season but Palace should ideally look at more competition for places.

Demarai Gray of Leicester City during the Carabao Cup match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: 23rd September 2020. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples/Sportimage.

The futures of Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp remain up in the air, with both players out of contract at the end of the season. 

Gray a real bargain?

Demarai Gray hasn’t really set the world alight at Leicester City, as evident from his lacklustre tally of 13 goals and 17 assists in 169 appearances for the Foxes. But at 24, he still has plenty of time to make significant improvements to his game and start delivering on his potential. 

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With the player available for a knockdown price this month, Crystal Palace should grab the opportunity to snap him up. Gray’s lightning pace, coupled with his versatility to operate anywhere across the forward line, would surely hand a boost to Hodgson’s dynamics in front of goal.