February 5, 2015 by bluenosebible
By Nat Peters
Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part I’m very happy we’ve managed to keep hold of Demarai Gray. He’s a very good player, and as a fan you want your club to keep hold of your very good players because you like seeing them play; they are the sort of players that can win you a match. On top of that, keeping him is a refreshing change from a couple of years ago where all of our best young (and older) players were sold at the first sign of a bid from another club.
So in that respect well done to Panos Pavlakis, Gary Rowett and whoever else has been resolute enough to reject these offers. It is now clear that unlike in days gone by there are people running the club who are actually interested in the welfare of the team, and don’t simply view the transfer windows as a chance to turn Birmingham City FC into a footballing car boot sale. As I said, it’s a refreshing change.
But the fact that we ended up rejecting a bid in the region of £5 million does make me wonder whether we’ve almost been too stubborn on this one. Demarai Gray has potential, no doubt about it, but he’s only made seventeen league starts for Blues and scored five league goals – effectively Bournemouth’s last bid that reached that five million mark gave us a million quid for every goal he’s scored for Blues. That sort of lump sum, particularly if sweetened with the promise of future add-ons (as would be almost standard practice in a deal involving a player of his age), is quite a sum to turn down for someone as relatively unproven as Demarai is.
On top of that, there is the fact that Gray’s contract runs out in the summer of 2016. In effect, from the end of this season unless he signs an extension to his deal we have only a year to get a transfer fee for him, and when a player has a contract fast running out his value rapidly declines. There is a possibility that in the next six to twelve months we could be in a position as a club where we have to accept substantially less than £5million or risk losing him for buttons in two summers time. Then again it has been repeatedly reiterated by Gary Rowett and the club that Gray doesn’t want to leave and hasn’t ever indicated otherwise, so it could be that the club have reason to be confident that he will sign a new deal in the near future and that would negate the risk of losing him on the cheap, and put us in a much stronger position to keep him for as long as possible.
Also, it could potentially be argued that £5 million wasn’t that fantastic a price when you compare it to other deals for players of a similar age in recent times. A couple of years ago Man United paid in excess of £10 million for Wilfried Zaha, who had played a few more games at Championship level than Gray has for us so far in his career but was totally unproven at top-flight level (and as proved by the fact that he’s now back at Palace he wasn’t ready for the massive step up) so it could be said that we would be foolish to accept for Gray half of what Palace got for Zaha. Even looking at this transfer window, when Dele Alli at MK Dons has fetched a £5 million fee from Tottenham for showing flashes of brilliance in what is effectively the Third Division, then why shouldn’t Gray fetch more for showing flashes of brilliance in what is effectively the Second Division?
The fact that the numerous bids that ended up reaching £5 million all exclusively came from Bournemouth was something of a shock however when you consider that the likes of Spurs and Liverpool were repeatedly linked with him in the run up to the window; it seems that the big guns held fire this time around. There were some people resentful of the fact that it was Bournemouth trying to take our player, but to be honest that didn’t bother me in the slightest because whilst Bournemouth are nowhere near as big a club as us they have a much better team right now, and wanted Demarai Gray to improve a team that looks like it will be heading to the Premier League. I’m afraid that’s just football. And there were people who were resentful that they started off with a bid of £1.5 million for him, but any sane club would always start the bidding low when trying to negotiate a price, and with our track record of selling our best players for pennies they had good grounds to assume that we may do it again. That’s just business.
But Bournemouth are turndownable as far as Gray is concerned, even if they are top of the Championship right now because of the fact that there are much bigger beasts after him. My worry would be if Gray keeps on playing well until the end of the season then those massive clubs that have been watching him decide to firm up their interest; how benign will he be towards a move then? Would he just meekly sit back and let the club decide his future? And as I said, with his contract fast running out of time then how strong will out negotiating position be with another club?
Overall though, I suppose that we should be grateful that for once we have managed to rebuff bids for one of our best players and be grateful that we will be getting to watch Demarai in a Blues shirt for the foreseeable future at least. I just hope that the decisions we have taken now don’t mean we find ourselves getting ripped off if and when Demarai Gray does leave in the future.
What have you made of the Demarai Gray transfer situation?