Demarai Gray admits leaving Leicester was ‘tough’ because he was never offered a new contract and didn’t feel ‘wanted or valued’ before leaving for Bayer Leverkusen in January
- Demarai Gray admitted he was never offered a new contract at Leicester City
- The 24-year-old signed an 18-month contract at Bayer Leverkusen in January
- The winger admitted he didn’t ‘wanted or valued’ at the King Power Stadium
Demarai Gray revealed he was never offered a new contract at Leicester and didn’t feel ‘wanted or valued’ by the club before leaving for Bayer Leverkusen in January.
The 24-year-old signed an 18-month contract at the BayArena for a fee of around £3million after struggling to force his way into the team under Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers.
Gray’s contract was due to expire in the summer so, with no new deal on the table, opted to move to German side after not feeling valued at the King Power Stadium and only playing 18 minutes of Premier League action this season.
Demarai Gray says he was not offered new Leicester contract before joining Bayer Leverkusen
‘No, there was no contract offer, there weren’t any discussions about it,’ said Gray, who has signed an 18-month deal at the BayArena. ‘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.
‘We had quite a few chats throughout last season. It was a bit of a broken season but it was made clear if I wanted to move on I could. I thought it was the right time if I’m being realistic.
‘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.
The 24-year-old (right) struggled for game time at the Foxes under Brendan Rodgers (left)
Gray, who’s Foxes contract was due to expire in summer, opted to move on in January
‘It was tough to deal with because I applied myself right, still trained and went in with the attitude hoping to get an opportunity.’
Gray joined Leicester from boyhood side Birmingham City for £3.5million in 2016 and one of his first actions was to help them secure a fairytale Premier League title the same year.
The former England U21 international spent another five years at the club, scoring 13 goals in 169 appearances, and says he still holds the club in high regard for their role in his development.
‘I have a lot of respect for everyone at the club. It was a chapter in my life I took many memories from,’ he said. ‘I went from my boyhood club to Leicester in the January to winning the Premier League six months later.
Gray said he still holds the club who he won the Premier League with in 2016 in high regard
‘The owners and Claudio (Ranieri) who signed me, people who are always going to be in my heart as they believed in me.
‘There were good times and bad times. I was there from 19 to 24-years-old but I didn’t feel like I stabilised myself in the team or had a good run of games where I got confidence and kicked on. It didn’t end in the best way but there are moments I will cherish forever.’
After signing last month, Gray has made two appearances from the bench for Leverkusen and scored on his debut to wrap up a 5-2 win over Stuttgart.
While the winger admitted the move is out of his comfort zone, he says the challenge feels right for him and is ready to make his mark in the Bundesliga.
Gray netted on his Leverkusen debut in a 5-2 victory over Stuttgart earlier this month
‘In my position it’s about numbers and stats. It’s about being the best player I can be. I failed to get any momentum in the last 18 months and when you’re an attacking player it’s difficult to get consistent numbers’, he added.
‘I got a good feeling from the club, the way this team plays and what they are competing for – Champions League football. (Bayern) Munich are at the top but it’s a club which will compete for titles.
‘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.’