Demarai Gray was not content with how he was managed at Leicester City; he sheds some light on why he left for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen this winter.
The former-Foxes winger has revealed that he was not approached by the King Power club to sign a new contract when his four-and-a-half-year deal was coming to an expiration. Feeling unimportant to Brendan Rodgers’ future plans, Gray choose Bayer Leverkusen’s BayArena as his new home.
“No, there was no contract offer, there weren’t any discussions about it. I didn’t go knocking asking for one because I wanted to be, if I was to stay, at a club where I was wanted and valued. I didn’t feel that, I wasn’t playing. I didn’t take it personally – it’s just football.”
– Demarai Gray
Ever since the Leicester gaffer took the manager’s role for the foxes in February 2019, there has been a paradigm shift in both the team’s tactics & mentality. The desire to fight against all the odds yet again is evident from the players. Surely it’s expected upon such a transition the new manager cannot make everyone happy and content with his plans.
Gray only found himself starting for Rogers in 10 games; from which seven were given to the wingman in 2019 when Rogers first came to the club. Moreover, when fellow winger Harvey Barnes developed quite magnificently in his loan spells, Demarai had a hungry Barnes to compete with.
Slowly, with good consistent performances on the pitch, Barnes made a name for himself throughout the league and was finding himself featuring regularly as a starter. Since 2019 Harvey has played in 73 matches as left-winger, scoring 19 goals with 11 assists in all competitions. That is compared to the ex-Birmingham man’s little to no game time at all.
It’s not surprising that Gray was unhappy that he was not a first choice for a role at the club anymore. In the former’s favor, one can argue that it is always tough to showcase impressive performances when a few scattered opportunities are given. To play well a player needs enough opportunities regularly or they can lose touch of their craft. It becomes crucial for a player to look for better opportunities where the grass looks greener for them. A fresh start can do wonders for players.
“As you approach the last year of your contract you get an idea if a team wants to keep you. I had a few discussions with Brendan – open and honest. I told him how I felt and where I stood and we agreed these things happen, where you do need a fresh start. There was never any drama.”
– Demarai Gray
So when in the winter transfer window, Bayer Leverkusen showed interest in the 24-year-old winger, he was more than ready to leave the east Midlanders behind. He signed a year-and-a-half deal for the club and has put in good displays for the Bundesliga side. With a fresh mindset and new challenges for his new club, he is in a better place mentally.
“It made sense to me, it felt right, which was most important. I didn’t want to make a decision just because I’m in a hurry to play football again. The challenge is the perfect one for me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.”
– Demarai Gray
Gray won the Premier League title in 2016 with Leicester City. He has scored 13 goals in 169 appearances for the East Midlands side in his career. Foxes of Leicester wishes him the very best for his future at his club Bayer Leverkusen.