Jack Stroudley looks at our first credible rumour of the summer in finer detail.
Well, rumour mill is turning once again! Sky journalist Lyall Thomas reports that Fulham have approached Everton about winger Demarai Gray. As has become tradition over the last few transfer windows, I’ll be looking into ‘credible’ rumours over the summer to see if they are a good fit, starting with Gray.
The fact file
Gray started his career at Birmingham City where he came through the youth system and made his professional debut aged 17. The former England U21 played 78 times for the Midlands side scoring eight times and was a standout player during the 5-2 drubbing of Fulham, which cost Kit Symons his job.
His good Championship performances caught the attention of Leicester City, who triggered his £3.7 million release clause. The Foxes 5000/1 Premier League title campaign and ventures in the Champions League meant that Gray’s opportunities to break into the first team were few and far between. Despite spending five years at Leicester, Gray struggled to make an impact and was eventually shipped off to Bayer Leverkusen.
Gray once again failed to make an impact in Germany and was picked up by Everton in 2021, where he has featured on a semi regular basis playing 67 times and scoring nine goals.
A deeper dive
I’m sure you all know who Demarai Gray is, but when looking at him statistically, what kind of player would Fulham be getting? Gray features predominantly on the left wing for Everton and occasionally ventures forward to be a second striker dependant on the opposition. His stats for last season are certainly a mixed bag. Gray scored 100% of his penalties (2/2) during the 2022/23 campaign so could answer the penalty problem we currently face, he scored four goals in total despite having an xG of 6.33, suggesting he was wasteful in-front of goal.
Gray is also in the bottom 3% for progressive passes, bottom 5% for assists and despite averaging 2.05 shots per 90 minutes (slightly below average) he only averages 0.07 goals per 90 minutes (bottom 8%). His defensive work-rate is around average for a player in his position with 1.18 tackles per 90 minutes (just under average) and 0.65 clearances per 90 (top 30%)
Yes or no?
This one is a tricky one; is the inquiry into Gray suggesting that Kebano is not renewing his contract so added depth is needed? If so, at 26 bringing in someone whose played in the Premier League for a good amount of time isn’t a bad pick-up and Silva has proven that he can get the best out of “uninspiring” signings with Pereira and Willian springing to mind. His age gives him scope to improve but I’m not convinced, he’s failed to make a name for himself everywhere he’s gone and I think we can do better.