In Focus: Former Southampton target Demarai Gray would have been a great buy

According to reports in the Leicester Mercury, Leicester City boss Claude Puel says he missed out on signing Foxes winger Demarai Gray, who is rated at €23m (approximately £20.3m) according to the figures calculated by the Football Observatory, via the Leicester Mercury, during his time in charge of Southampton.

What’s the word, then?

Well, Puel was sacked by the south coast outfit at the end of last season despite leading them to an eighth-place finish and the final of the League Cup, and he was appointed by Leicester earlier this season when they sacked Craig Shakespeare.

The Frenchman has told the Leicester Mercury that he tried to sign Gray for Saints ahead of his return to face his former team at St Mary’s on Wednesday night.

The 56-year-old told the Leicester Mercury: “I wanted him before when I was at Southampton but I am happy he is in the colours of Leicester and that I found him in my squad because he is a valuable player for the team.”

How has Gray done this season?

Despite struggling for first-team starts under Shakespeare earlier in the campaign, the 21-year-old has started six of Claude Puel’s seven Premier League matches in charge of the Foxes, and he has made a huge impression.

The England U21 international played a huge part in his side’s opening goal in the 2-0 win against Everton in Puel’s first game at the helm, while he scored the second.

The former Birmingham City man has shown  his versatility by playing on both flanks and as a No 10 in recent weeks, and he has scored two goals in his last two games in the latter’s position, including a deflected strike in the 3-2 win against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday.

Would he have been a good signing for Southampton?

He certainly would have been.

While Puel struggled for goals with Saints last season, many argued that it was because he didn’t have enough quality and pace in his attack, and that is perhaps being shown with the success he is having with Gray, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at the King Power Stadium.

While the forward is certainly not the finished article, he would have brought plenty of pace, trickery and goal threat to the Southampton frontline, and that is something that was – and still is in some respects – much-needed.