I spoke to Steven Gerrard and knew I had to leave Everton - I was totally out of the picture

Demarai Gray in Premier League action for Everton against Bournemouth before his Saudi Arabia move to Al-Ettifaq
-Credit: (Image: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Demarai Gray left Everton because he believed he was “totally out of the picture”.

The winger was the final sale of the Blues’ summer, departing for Saudi Arabia after the Premier League transfer window closed in September.

His exit came after a public breakdown in his relationship with the club, showcased by his social media activity.

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The player took to Instagram to post: “Everton fans have always been great with me but it is so difficult to play for someone who don’t show you respect as a person.” The post came just days after the end of a transfer window in which his departure had looked increasingly likely. After playing in the Concacaf Gold Cup with Jamaica he returned to Merseyside for pre-season but did not feature in a matchday squad for any of the club’s friendlies nor the Blues’ first five games of the season.

Sean Dyche cited fitness issues when asked about Gray’s absence following Everton’s draw at Sheffield United and said: “It was a bit of everything - his fitness, his fitness to play in the side, the situation around him and all of the noise. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks that will become clear and he will get himself fit as a start point.”

Yet the following day, Gray took to Instagram and he was sold to Al-Ettifaq in the days that followed. Reflecting on that period, the 28-year-old - who said the positive start to his Blues career under Rafa Benitez had led to him thinking he might get an England call-up - has now told Four Four Two: “It was a difficult decision, but I had to leave Everton. I was totally out of the picture. There was strong interest from Fulham, but it didn’t quite happen. Then I got a call from Jordan Henderson, had a nice conversation with the gaffer, Steven Gerrard, and thought: ‘I’m 27 and I’ve experienced two relegation battles, won the Premier League title and played in Germany. I have one career, so let’s see what this is saying.’ It was a decent deal and the club sold me their ambitions. So far, they’ve stuck to everything they said they’ll do. The speed and dedication the club has put into trying to make the facilities elite is ridiculous.”