New signing Demarai Gray believes he can deliver the best football of his career at Everton and has set out his target to become a “pivotal player” in Rafa Benitez’s team.
Gray has joined Everton from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen on a three-year deal, with the option for a fourth year.
He will wear the number 11 shirt and becomes the Club’s third summer addition, following the arrivals of fellow winger Andros Townsend and experienced goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Gray – who was part of the Leicester City squad that stunned world football by winning the Premier League title in 2015/16 – outlined the attributes he hopes will bolster the Blues’ attacking armoury and excite Evertonians.
“For me, the targets that I’ve set myself and what the Club’s ambitions are, collectively everything felt right to me to join Everton,” the 25-year-old told evertontv.
“I want to push on, be a pivotal player in the squad, and help the team score goals and assist goals.
“I’m a speedy, tricky winger. I enjoy running with the ball, roaming around the pitch.
“I like to play anywhere along the front three and I feel like I can be dangerous in all areas. And with the ability I know I have and the belief I have in myself, I think I can add to this team.
“I feel like I’m at a stage in my career now where I can put everything together. There are areas of my game where I still want to improve and become better at.
“I’m excited to kick on.”
Before joining Leverkusen in January 2021, Gray built up significant Premier League experience during his five years with Leicester, playing a total of 133 top-flight games for the Foxes.
Gray is now intent on elevating his game to a new level at Everton. He explained how his conversations with manager Benitez and Director of Football Marcel Brands left him convinced he has joined a Club where his qualities can flourish.
“Speaking to the manager and Marcel, I had a really good feel for the Club and I feel this is a place where I can continue to develop,” he added.
“For a player, it’s important to feel their trust and belief.
“I obviously have to repay that on the pitch and deliver to help the team but, with what Marcel and the manager have said to me, everything fits, including the Club’s ambitions and goals.
“Speaking to the manager gave me the feeling he is someone who is very passionate, ambitious and can help me develop.
“That’s key because that’s the main aim.
“I want to work hard on the training pitch and work my hardest for the Club on the pitch. The objective is to be pushing and competing high up in the table.”
Gray has represented England at every level from Under-18 to Under-21 and has played alongside Everton trio Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny and Jordan Pickford for his country.
The Birmingham-born winger expressed his desire to provide a steady stream of service for striker Calvert-Lewin, who finished last season as the Blues’ top scorer with 21 goals from 39 appearances
“I've played with a few of the boys for England Under-21s so it's always nice to see a few familiar faces,” Gray added.
“Dom's kicked on massively with his goals and, for me, as a winger, that's the type of player you want in the box.
“My job is to feed him for him to put the ball in the net.
“We’ve got top international players in the squad and I think we have a good balance. It's an exciting time.”
Calvert-Lewin and Pickford both received their maiden senior Three Lions call-ups after excelling for Everton.
Richarlison, meanwhile, has emerged as a key player for Brazil after being handed his international debut following an impressive start to his Toffees career in 2018.
Gray added: “Of course, that [breaking into the senior England squad] is one of my aims and ambitions.
“It's evident Everton is a club where you can progress and achieve those goals
“I'm going to get my head down, focus on my club football and let that take care of itself. If the international call comes knocking, I'll be delighted.”