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Rob Burnett: Birmingham’s Demarai Gray should snub the biggest clubs in football

17 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: Birmingham’s Demarai Gray should snub the biggest clubs in football

The Mirror.co.uk's sports editor says the Blues starlet would be better avoiding the likes of Chelsea and Man City if he wants to make it to the top

He is only 19-years-old, but already he will be the first name Birmingham City fans look for on the team sheet.
 
The Blues have lost only one game so far this season: a 1-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest at St Andrews on Tuesday.

It is one of just two matches this season that Demarai Gray did not start.
 
A pacey winger, the local Brum lad is the latest wonderkid to come through the academy system and has already played more than 50 games for his hometown club.

Of course, with players like him, the real hardcore fans will have known all about him before he ever got near the first team.

Everton fans already knew the name Wayne Rooney long before he announced himself to the rest of the world with that winner against Arsenal. Likewise, Southampton supporters with Theo Walcott.

And if the fans know about them, you can be sure scouts of all the top clubs in the land will be watching, compiling dossiers, and waiting to pounce.

Gray is the latest in their sights.

Young, English, quick, talented and – crucially – at a club that in the long-term, is powerless to keep him. He is ripe for the picking for one of the big boys.

Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City are all known to have had him watched.

Bournemouth and Leicester even got as far as making bids for him, which were knocked back by the Blues this summer.

Now German giants Bayern Munich are getting in on the act and sent spies to watch him play for the England Under 20s last week.

“Being the young talented player he is, it’s not surprising there’s a lot of speculation around him,” Blues boss Gary Rowett said in August, before the transfer window shut.

“Demarai is contracted here and we don’t want to sell him. We are no different to where we were.
 
“A lot of those things we can’t control if a club comes in and wants to bid for him,” he added.

4/1 – Demarai Gray to score against Ipswich

And there is the crux.

The club tied Gray down to a new three-year contract in the summer.

But Rowett knows, Gray knows, and every other club knows that all that really means is the Blues should get a higher price for him when he does leave.

When another club does come in with a big enough offer, Gray himself will be holding all the cards, but he should think carefully before snapping up the first big-money deal thrust under his nose.

It is entirely possible that he could sign for a massive club like Manchester City and flourish in their first- team.

It is equally possible he could end up spending all his time on the bench, or continually farmed out on loan, like one-time wonderkids Scott Sinclair (six loan spells while at Chelsea, two more while at Man City) or John Bostock (five loan spells while at Spurs).

Of course those big clubs are tempting – massive contracts that could set you up for life, and the chance to fight your way into a trophy-winning team.

But when the time comes to leave St Andrews, it would be far better for Gray to join a smaller Premier League club, play every week and continue to learn his trade.

If his progress continues, the big boys will still be watching, waiting, and ready to pounce all over again.

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