Bournemouth are ready to smash their transfer record with a £25 million offer for Leicester City winger Demarai Gray. That is according to The Sun, which says Cherries manager Eddie Howe wants to bring the England Under-21 international to the south coast this summer. Howe is a long-term admirer of Gray, who has failed to establish himself as a regular for the Foxes since joining from Birmingham City last year.
What would he bring?
Gray made 30 Premier League appearances for Leicester last season, but the majority of those were from the bench as Claudio Ranieri and his successor, Craig Shakespeare, preferred to use him as an impact substitute. The 21-year-old showed glimpses of his potential and is understood to want regular football. He would be more likely to get it at Bournemouth than Leicester, where currently he is playing second fiddle to Riyad Mahrez.
Gray fits the profile of a Howe signing. Bournemouth are not yet in a financial position to purchase and pay the wages of elite Premier League footballers, which is why the former Burnley boss opts for a different strategy. Gray is young, English and has room to improve. Howe is attracted by Gray’s blistering pace and ability to beat defenders. He is also excellent from dead-ball situations and has shown in the past that he has an eye for goal.
There would appear to be a vacancy for a winger at the Vitality Stadium, after Bournemouth allowed Max Gradel to join Ligue 1 club Toulouse on loan for the season. However, Howe does have Ryan Fraser, Marc Pugh and Jordon Ibe at his disposal, while Junior Stanislas is currently recovering from injury. Another wide man, Connor Mahoney, has signed from Blackburn Rovers in this window, with a view to the future. If anything, the Cherries look short in central midfield, where there has been a distinct lack of creativity, not on the wings.
The reported transfer fee would eclipse the £20 million that Bournemouth paid Chelsea for defender Nathan Ake earlier this summer. It is a staggering figure for a player who joined Leicester for just £3.7 million in January last year. The Cherries had previously been linked with Gray after he turned in a string of impressive performances for Birmingham in the Championship.
Gray is undoubtedly talented, but he seems massively overpriced. English footballers often come with a premium and that looks to be the case here. Leicester have no need to sell, but should Bournemouth make a formal bid of £25 million, they may find it too good to refuse. Any transfer may depend on the future of Mahrez, who has been continually linked with a move abroad. Shakespeare would surely not allow both to depart, particularly at this late stage of the window.