After complaints were made over his lack of playing time last season, speculation over the future of Leicester City’s Demarai Gray has gone quiet, with the winger seemingly set to stay at the King Power Stadium for at least one more season.
“I understand the frustration of young players expecting and wanting more time. But on the other hand they have to be respectful of their team-mates and who is in front of them.” –Craig Shakespeare on Gray’s future.
However, RealSport understands that Gray has held talks with the Leicester hierarchy over a possible move away this summer.
As far as the Foxes are concerned, the 21-year-old forward is under long-term contract and therefore not for sale, despite interest from the likes of Everton, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur.
RealSport looks at Gray’s best career choice.
1 Borussia Dortmund
The wildcard of the three options, but perhaps an intriguing proposal for the youngster. Reece Oxford has already swapped England for Germany when he joined Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from West Ham, but it’s not a well-trodden path and there’s little in the way of history to offer Gray comfort over how well he’d settle into the Bundesliga.
However, the 21-year-old is a quick and powerful winger, attributes that will serve him well in Germany and he’d benefit from broadening his footballing horizons at Dortmund under former Ajax manager Peter Bosz in the long-term.
However, BVB don’t look like selling Ousmane Dembele, so there’s not much space in the squad given the wide talent they boast in the Frenchman, Marco Reus, Christian Pulisic, Emre Mor and Andre Schurrle. With this in mind, given Gray’s desire for first team football, Dortmund is not the best choice at this stage of his career, despite the chance of silverware.
2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham, too, provide an attractive proposition for the talented England youngster. The chance to work under Mauricio Pochettino isn’t one to brush aside quickly, given the Argentine’s track record with English prospects. In fact, Kieran Trippier was the 12th player coached by Pochettino to make his England debut.
For Gray, this is an opportunity to work under one of the best coaches in the country, which could enhance his chances of making the England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
Importantly, there isn’t a player like Gray currently in the Spurs squad - a tricky, direct, traditional winger. He’s less of an inside forward than Erik Lamela and Heung-min Son and would offer an alternate option to Pochettino.
However, with a World Cup looming, game-time is the order of the day and there’s every chance Gray will find himself on the bench at Spurs as a rotation player. Whilst that’s a decent position to be in, it won’t satisfy his craving for regular football.
There’s an argument to make that moving to Goodison Park would be the best for Gray at this stage of his career. He’s in need of first team football and the Toffees are slightly lacking in quality out wide, despite being quite deep in the position. They already boast Sandro Ramirez, Yannick Bolasie, Kevin Mirallas, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aaron Lennon, so there is also a good chance he’ll wind up on the bench.
Like Pochettino, Ronald Koeman is an impressive manager when it comes to young talent, though his treatment of Ross Barkley might undermine his reputation.
Gray would have to compete with Ademola Lookman, the young winger signed from Charlton in January. Only one will get the focus of Koeman’s attention in all likelihood…
Everton, though, are ambitious, given their spending spree this summer, and it’s a step up in quality from Leicester City with an improved group of players.
RealSport verdict: Tottenham Hotspur
If you’re Demarai Gray and you have ambitions to go to the World Cup, your best bet would be moving to Tottenham. At Wembley, there’s a manager that has a proven record of success with English talent; Pochettino simply gets players into the squad, it’s what he does best.
That opportunity is too good to turn down in the build-up to a World Cup.
Moreover, Gray would be a unique winger at Spurs, a direct type different to those currently in the squad, which suggests there is a role for him to play. There will be times when Spurs need that powerful running down the line, which Gray can provide in abundance.
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