Demarai Gray completes Bayer Leverkusen switch, with Leicester City set to receive around £2m for the midfielder; 23-year-old who had fallen out of favour under Brendan Rodgers signs one-and-a-half-year deal until 2022
Sunday 31 January 2021 18:30, UK
Leicester City midfielder Demarai Gray has completed a transfer to Bayer Leverkusen for around £2m.
Gray has signed a contract with the Bundesliga club until June 2022.
The midfielder had fallen out of favour under manager Brendan Rodgers and was set to leave the Foxes with his deal at the club about to expire in the summer.
In a farewell message, Gray said he had enjoyed "unforgettable moments" at the club, including being part of the Premier League-winning squad in 2016 and scoring the first goal following the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people in a helicopter crash in October 2018.
"Today I say goodbye to a wonderful club and family as it is Leicester City," he added on Instagram.
"I want to thank everyone at the club who have helped me to become a better footballer."
Crystal Palace and Marseille were also believed to be interested in signing Gray, with Palace boss Roy Hodgson admitting on Friday he was "aware" of his situation.
Leverkusen believe Gray could make an impact in the Bundesliga as other young English players have done, such as Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, who have starred for Borussia Dortmund since their moves to the German top flight.
"It's a great opportunity to gain new experience at a very interesting foreign club," Gray told Leverkusen's website.
"When the Bundesliga was the first big league to play again after the coronavirus break last year, the whole world looked over here. I like German football.
"I've seen Bayer 04 attack, move forward aggressively and technically, and dictate the game through possession. I fit in well here. I can and would like to develop further here and be successful with this attractive team."
The former Birmingham player has scored 13 goals in 169 appearances since joining Leicester for £3.5m in January 2016. Gray helped the Foxes win the Premier League in 2016 under Claudio Ranieri.
"He has been a really good young player for the club. He has reached the age now at 24 where he wants to be a regular player somewhere," Leicester boss Rodgers said after the move was confirmed.
"Unfortunately, the form of Harvey [Barnes] has stopped his opportunity of progression. He is at that age now where he wants to go and play. He was a good boy, worked really well and hard for me but we wish him all the best."
Leicester are considering the possibility of a move for Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah as they seek cover before the window closes on Monday night.
Dennis Praet is out for up to three months and Wilfred Ndidi will miss another week through injury - those absences have prompted Leicester to explore a number of possible midfield replacements on loan.
Hamza Choudhury's potential move to Newcastle United would be sanctioned if Leicester can make a midfield acquisition before the transfer deadline.
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