By Beck Pascal

11th Jan, 2022 | 11:00am

Brendan Rodgers hails former winger Demarai Gray amid Everton form

Brendan Rodgers has opened up on former Leicester City winger Demarai Gray who is now shining at Everton. 

Gray left Leicester City for regular first-team football, and after an underwhelming spell at Bayer Leverkusen, the 25-year-old made his return to the Premier League. 

Since joining the Blues for a mere £1.7million, the Englishman has gone from strength to strength, being one of the team’s standout performers. 

“I’m delighted for Demarai,” Rodgers told ECHO.

“I think he felt he needed to [leave], I’d have loved for him to have stayed. But I just think he’d been at the club for about seven years, and he wanted to go and be a regular player somewhere.

“He had the opportunity to go to Germany and that didn’t work out, and sometimes you come back and think this might be the last chance.

“He’s grabbing it, from what I’ve seen of him. I’m delighted for him personally, he was a good guy. When I was here he made really valuable contributions.

“But I think he felt he needed to go away and start every game, and he felt the best opportunity to do that was probably to move on from Leicester.

“He’s scored some important goals for them and he’s a very good player.”

Late bloomer 

The hype Gray faced as such a young player may have hindered his career. Like many English stars, he was tipped to be the next best thing when bursting onto the scene at Leicester. 

It came as a surprise when he struggled in Germany, a country notorious for the development of young players with several English stars achieving great success from the same route. 

Gray’s shortcomings were actually a good thing for the Toffees. It meant that they could steal him for a very cheap price which is always good. 

Not coming in as a marquee signing for a huge fee looks to have helped the winger. There has been very little media attention on him which has allowed him to focus solely on his football. 

The former Leicester man will be delighted with the turnaround in his career as he continues to exceed expectations at Goodison Park as one of this season’s star performers and maybe by the end of the campaign, signing of the season.

In other Blues news, Michael Ball baffled by Benitez’ ‘strange’ reaction to Everton star Digne.