Demarai Gray is a player who burst onto the football scene in 2015. He’s from Cadbury, a small area in Birmingham and was widely considered to be the best thing to come out of Birmingham City’s academy since Nathan Redmond.
Gray was a firm favourite with the locals and impressed the Birmingham faithful on a number of occasions during his breakthrough year. In particular, Blues fans will remember his hat-trick against Reading, which lead the Blues to an emphatic 6-1 victory.
Yet only this week Gray was on the move, securing a £3.75million transfer to Premier League high-flyers Leicester City. A lot has been made of this transfer, with some Blues fans berating the 19-year-old for leaving his childhood team whilst others have welcomed him to the King Power stadium with open arms.
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As a Birmingham City fan myself, it is difficult to come to terms with Gray’s departure. Although he only provided one goal this season, his goal threat is unquestionable. He’s a mazy, skilful young winger who has fantastic vision and endeavour for someone his age.
But I for one won’t be giving him any grief for joining Leicester City.
Money, fees and agents aside, it’s an excellent move in the youngster’s blossoming career. Leicester City are unquestionably a team on the up. Their rise up the Premier League this season has been astonishing and they truly deserve to be where they are after some fantastic performances.
I can’t see them leaving the Premier League anytime soon, even when this honeymoon period does come to an end. But in choosing Leicester City, Gray has done nothing but benefit his career.
With the Foxes, Gray will get playing time. Had he gone to Liverpool (whom he was also linked with), I would have found it difficult to see where his playing time would have come from.
It’s so easy for young English players to choose a ‘top-four’ team for their first move. With it comes the ability to brag about playing for one of England’s biggest clubs, and a huge pay-packet to go with it.
But as we have seen in the past, many young English gems have chosen this option and it hasn’t worked out how they would have liked. Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell are two excellent examples of how big-money moves to Manchester City don’t always translate in to a successful career.
They made the moves far too soon in their careers when instead they should have stayed at a club that can offer them regular football, which is the most important thing for any footballing development.
Yes, Gray had that at Birmingham. But it’s an exciting time to join Leicester City, who are by no means a small club. In Claudio Ranieri they have a footballing tactician that has the fans well and truly onside with his philosophy.
Gray is a talented young player, who, with continued hard work and game-time could turn into a future England star.
And good on Leicester City who I’m sure will be looking forward to seeing Gray continue to grow and grow.