Leicester City must be regretting the decision to sell Demarai Gray in January after he began life back in the Premier League with a bang following his arrival at Everton.
The 25-year-old winger joined Bayer Leverkusen halfway through the 2020/21 campaign in a £1.8m deal after falling down the pecking order at the King Power Stadium, but he swiftly returned to his homeland.
Gray’s talent and potential has rarely been in doubt. He was one of English football’s most exciting young prospects after rising through the ranks at boyhood club Birmingham City, earning a move to Leicester during their title-winning campaign.
Although he only played a limited role in the Foxes’ incredible 2015/16 campaign, Gray established himself in the first team over the subsequent years and occasionally caught the eye with some outstanding performances.
“He was excellent,” Brendan Rodgers said after a win over Bournemouth back in 2019 (as relayed by the Leicester Mercury). “He has been training very well. He is a big talent, and he showed that when he came in.”
However, showcasing his talent on a regular basis has been the real issue for the former England under-21 international.
The flying forward has often started well under a new manager or at a new club, scoring three goals in his first seven league outings under Claude Puel before failing to find the back of the net in his final 20 top-flight appearances for Leicester.
A similar pattern occurred during his six-month spell in the Bundesliga when he scored once and provided two assists in his opening three fixtures for Leverkusen but failed to contribute in his last seven games.
Gray is now repeating the trick at Goodison Park. Three goals already this season for the Toffees has seen him score just one fewer than the whole Leicester squad put together while on league duty, elevating Everton into fourth position in the table.
It’s hard to criticise Leicester director of football Jon Rudkin given the exceptional work he’s done during his time with the Midlands outfit.
He has often sold key players at the perfect time, maximising the profit from their departures before wisely reinvesting the proceeds in the transfer market, allowing the current FA Cup holders to continually punch above their weight.
However, Gray may well turn out to be his biggest mistake of the century. Selling a highly promising young player for under £2m just as he was approaching his peak years when he will hopefully mature refine his game seems a totally illogical decision.
It remains to be seen whether the £7.2m-rated Gray can find the consistency over an extended period of time at Everton, but on the evidence of the opening month of the new campaign, Leicester fans must be regretting Rudkin’s fateful call to part ways with the 25-year-old winger.