Following yet another superb performance by Demarai Gray in Leicester City's 3-2 victory over Newcastle United at St James' Park on Saturday evening, the Foxes new manager Claude Puel admitted he tried to sign the youngster when he was manager of Southampton, but thankfully the deal fell through.
The England U21 international scored the second goal against the Magpies as Puel's men claimed a third consecutive Premier League win, which now sees them comfortably sitting 8th in the league with growing speculation that Gray’s performances could lead to a call-up to the full England squad.
Speaking to Leicester Mercury the French manager said: “I wanted him before when I was at Southampton but I am happy he is in the colours of Leicester and that I found him in my squad because he is a valuable player for the team.
“He showed the quality to control the ball and the play, but also to turn to take space because of his pace. His passing is good and he can create opportunities for Jamie and his team-mates.”
Gray had been frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities prior to Puel's arrival, but the Frenchman said he didn’t need to convince Gray about his future at the King Power stadium.
Puel said: “I like to discuss things with my players and my office door is always open but I never had the conversation with Demarai,
“It was normal for me to give him game time in the team and see his qualities. Whether the player is old or young, it is not important to me. He must just be ready to play.”
City have now suffered just one defeat in 11 games, at home to Manchester City, and have rapidly climbed the table, but Puel isn’t getting too excited.
“The most important thing is to consolidate our position in the table and to continue this hard work."