Rivals named as Crystal Palace seek bargain deal for Leicester outcast

Date published: Tuesday 26th January 2021 1:45 - Neil Foster

Demarai Gray Leicester

Two European clubs have emerged as competition for Crystal Palace as the race to sign Leicester’s out-of-favour Demarai Gray hots up.

Gray, 24, has been deemed surplus to requirements at the King Power Stadium this season. A Premier League title-winner with the Foxes in 2015-16, he was a regular in the league side for a couple of years.

But his appearances have dwindled in recent times and he made just three starts among 21 outings last term. The former England Under-21 ace has played only 18 minutes of league football in 2020-21.

He did play the full 90 minutes as Leicester were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Arsenal back in September last year.

It seems as though his days in the East Midlands are numbered, with his contract due to expire in the summer. However, Palace might look to swoop this month to boost their attacking ranks.

It is said that he could be available for as little as £2m – a price that is bound to alert other suitors. They have come in the form of Portuguese giants Benfica and French club Monaco, who are looking for a cut-price deal.

Gray was left out of Leicester’s squad for the FA Cup victory against Brentford on Sunday. Reports claim he has been told he can leave in January, with Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers open to an exit.

“He is at the stage of his career where he has been here a long time and hasn’t maybe nailed down a place,” he said. “A fresh start may be the course for him.

 “I will always respect him and until his last day I will never discard him. But it’s looking more than likely he will probably be somewhere else next season.”

Gray to provide ammunition

Roy Hodgson has signed French striker Jean-Philippe Mateta on an 18-month loan from Mainz. The hope is that he can boost the Eagles’ goal tally, which stands at 22 from 19 top-flight games.

Palace sit 13th in the table and are 11 points above the drop zone but Hodgson will take nothing for granted. The addition of Gray would be a further option in the final third.

He may have been lightly used this term but the former Birmingham City man has played 169 times for Leicester. It has been suggested he has already turned down an approach from Bayer Leverkusen.

Monaco or Benfica would be an attractive proposition and his future should be decided this week.


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