Demarai Gray is only 25, but football has already taken him on quite a journey.
Gray first broke into a senior team with Championship club Birmingham City in the 2013-14 season. Over the next three years, Gray made 78 appearances with the club he had joined as a u11, scoring 8 goals in the process.
In January of 2016, Premier League leaders Leicester City signed Gray after taking note of his impressive play in the second tier. Gray became a Premier League champion in his very first season with Leicester. He went on to play at least 30 Premier League matches each of the next three seasons.
In 2019-20, however, Gray’s minutes began to decrease. He made 21 Premier League appearances and 29 overall, both his lowest totals in a full season with the club. In 2020-21 Gray hardly featured for Leicester. The then 24-year-old played just one Premier League match before moving to German side Bayer Leverkusen in January.
Playing time was not abundant in Germany either. Gray made 12 appearances for Leverkusen, scoring one goal.
In the summer of 2021, Gray saw an opportunity to return to English football with Everton. The Toffees paid a rumored £1.7 million to sign the Birmingham native on a three year contract. In Gray, Everton felt they were getting a pacey young player who was hungry to prove he belongs at the top level of the English football pyramid.
Demarai Gray’s first goal with Everton
Demarai Gray has made an immediate impact on Merseyside. The 25-year-old has started each of Everton’s first two Premier League fixtures, playing 83 minutes in both.
In the season opener against Southampton, Gray was positive and bright. He used his pace and passing to help contribute to a convincing 3-1 victory.
Gray took things to the next level in week two against Leeds. With the game tied at one coming out of half time, Gray scored his first goal for the club to give the Toffees a lead.
— Everton (@Everton) August 21, 2021
Gray received the ball from midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré in the penalty area before momentarily overrunning it. He recovered by twisting and turning his body to open up some space before firing the ball into the far corner. He did not quite execute the celebration as well as the finish, but it was a great way to get off the mark for the club.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw, so Gray’s strike was vital in securing Everton a tough road point.
According to FotMob, Gray has earned himself positive match ratings of 7.1 and 7.9 in his first two appearances.
For a rumored fee of £1.7 million, Everton seem to have gotten themselves a player who offers a lot of what they were missing a season ago.
Through two matches, Demarai Gray has been pacey, direct and positive with the ball at his feet. His willingness to take on defenders and carry the ball towards goal has been refreshing to see.
Two games is obviously far too soon to deliver a definitive verdict on any signing. However, there is no denying that there have been plenty of positive signs to be excited about thus far.
If Demarai Gray continues to use his pace and dribbling to contribute to Everton’s attack as he has done through two matches, the club will have a real bargain on their hands.
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Featured image courtesy of @Everton.