Newcastle United supporters have been slightly deflated in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side lose 1-0 to Burnley on Monday night, in turn suffering a fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash with the Clarets off the back of a three-match unbeaten run, having drawn against Liverpool and Southampton before narrowly beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at St James’ Park last weekend. However, they were unable to keep their momentum going as a Jeff Hendrick strike 16 minutes from time secured a deserved 1-0 victory for Sean Dyche’s men at Turf Moor, in turn lifting the Lancashire-based outfit above the Magpies and into seventh place in the Premier League table.
Thus, several of our resident Newcastle fans have been very quiet in the Transfer Tavern this week, although a few have tried to forget about Monday’s match by fully focusing on their crucial encounter with Eddie Howe’s struggling Bournemouth on Saturday.
And disappointing results, especially just a few months before the reopening of the transfer window, has stimulated quite a discussion about potential incomings at St James’ Park in the January market, especially given they endured a tricky window during the summer.
And one man they reportedly attempted to land is Leicester City winger Demarai Gray, who has today penned a new long-term deal with the Foxes to all but quash any speculation about him leaving the King Power Stadium in the coming transfer windows.
The 21-year-old only moved to the Midlands outfit back in 2016 and helped Claudio Ranieri’s side to achieve the impossible by winning the Premier League five months later, but he has since been a bit-part player at the club, starting just two league games this term and only nine last season.
And Newcastle were reportedly seeking to lure him to the North East over the summer, and given that he has just signed a new deal, and has performed particularly well for Leicester so far this term, it must feel like an opportunity missed for the Magpies.
Gray showed glimpses of promise for much of last season with four assists in 30 league appearances, but he was rarely a starter under both Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare, despite possessing the sort of pace and trickery the Foxes needed to get out of their plight.
But when he has been given a start this season, most notably in Claude Puel’s first game in charge last time out against Everton, the 21-year-old has certainly showed Benitez and the Newcastle hierarchy what they are missing.
The England Under-21 star ran rings round the Toffees backline last weekend, playing a major part in Leicester’s opener by driving at the Everton defence before showing great composure to find Riyad Mahrez, who then found Jamie Vardy in the box for an easy tap-in.
And Gray then made the second by again bolting down the left-hand-side, before his cross was unfortunately turned into his own net by Jonjoe Kenny. But Gray put the ball in the right areas to force a mistake out of the young defender, and that is surely all you can ask of a winger.
And when one saw how lethargic Newcastle were against Burnley on Monday, one wonders how influential Gray could have been in that team, either as a starter or coming off the bench and injecting the sort of pace and directness that stands him out as a supremely bright talent.
The Magpies will surely be kicking themselves at failing to land the £9 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt), whose recent efforts for Leicester, alongside a new deal, underline how big a prospect he is, and how big a future he could have in the game.
Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!