Immediately after the Premier League has come to its conclusion, the transfer window slams open for business and Steve Bruce has got work to do to improve this Newcastle squad. Not only were the Magpies short of goals this term, scoring just 38 in as many matches, but Bruce also has one of the Premier League’s more elderly squads with an average age of 26.4.
Demarai Gray is a player who’s been linked with a move to St James’ Park, and with the Leicester City youngster entering the last year of his contract with the Foxes, Brendan Rodgers may be keen not to lose the winger for nothing. The 24-year-old could help address both Newcastle’s scoring deficiencies and inject some youthful vigour into Bruce’s side were he to make the switch to Tyneside.
Once again, the England U21 international appeared predominantly from the bench at the King Power Stadium this term, as Gray was introduced to proceedings 18 times as a substitute in the Premier League alone. It was business as usual for the winger, who has made at least 11 appearances from the bench in the league in all five of his seasons with the Foxes. However, making 20 fewer starts than the previous term as well will likely have been a frustrating experience to endure, and a move to the northeast could get Gray in the starting eleven more frequently.
Despite having played just 609 minutes in the top-flight for the Foxes, Gray scored two goals and registered three assists for Rodger’s side, equalling his best direct goal involvement total in a league season with the Foxes, five. Unfortunately for Gray, the emergence of players such as Harvey Barnes, who made 24 starts this term, may have put a blockade on his route to the first team.
In Newcastle, there is a possibility that Gray could make the starting lineup more frequently. The 24-year-old could line up as part of a three-man attacking midfield line alongside Miguel Almiron, with Allan Saint-Maximin on the opposite flank. Jonjo Shelvey ended the season as the Magpies’ top-scorer on six Premier League goals, and while Gray has never been prolific, scoring four top-flight goals in 2018/19, he could help ease the burden on Newcastle’s strikers.
Bruce must go all in to secure Gray’s signature this summer. The winger could slot straight into the starting eleven, and the promise of a starting role may help to entice Gray to Tyneside. Furthermore, he is just 24, meaning he still has his best years ahead of him, in theory, and with only a year left until his contract expires, may be available close to his value.