Leicester City winger Demarai Gray has confirmed he was subject to several bids from rival clubs on deadline day and remains frustrated by the lack of opportunities afforded to him by manager Craig Shakespeare. The 21-year-old was linked with Bournemouth, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur during the summer, but Gray has stayed at the King Power Stadium to fight for his place.
The Foxes were demanding a fee of £30m (€32.8m) for Gray, with Spurs and the Cherries leading the race heading into the final day of the summer transfer window. Eddie Howe's side reportedly had a bid of £20m turned down, with the 2015-16 Premier League champions demanding a greater bid to part with their star.
Gray voiced concern over his lack of playing time – he made just nine Premier League starts last term – during the summer, but his criticism of Shakespeare's selection policy has continued having played for just 33 minutes in Leicester's opening three top flight games this season. Liverpool and Tottenham continue to monitor his future and the Champions League pair will be encouraged by his latest outburst.
"Did I think I was going to leave Leicester? There were a few bids flying around," Gray said, according to Talksport, after scoring in the England Under-21's 3-0 win over Latvia at Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium. "There was interest and a lot going on. Obviously I was away with the Under-21s so that took my mind off it a little bit. But a lot was going on.
"Leicester sat me down and told me how they were going to use me and the impact they see me having on the team. But deadline day is manic and you never know what is going to happen. I am not happy with the amount of football I am playing. I respect the manager and he picks his team.
"But I want to play as much as possible in the Premier League and at the moment that is not the case. I have just have to get my head down and get on with it and come off the bench or whatever, play well in a cup game and give the manager a headache.
"But I just get so frustrated when I don't play and the manager knows I just want to play. I am not just going to sit there and say nothing. If I was that would be an issue. People misunderstand sometimes and think my morale might not be as good as it should be.
"But I just want to play football and when I'm not playing it's frustrating because I know what I can bring to the team. I respect Eddie Howe as a manager and it was nice to score in front of their fans. I was aware of their interest in the window but I am still a Leicester player at the end of the day."
While Liverpool's interest appeared to cool as the window progressed, Tottenham were understood to be the front-runners to sign Gray on the final day of trading during the summer – ahead of long-time admirers Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. The Eagles were prepared to offer Andros Townsend in part exchange in an effort to lure Gray to Selhurst Park, according to The Mirror.
Tottenham were indeed busy on deadline day, making two signings in the form of Serge Aurier from Paris Saint-Germain and Fernando Llorente from domestic rivals Swansea City. Liverpool, meanwhile, made just one signing as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain swapped Arsenal for Anfield.