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Archie Gray reveals motivation for joining Tottenham after Leeds exit

Archie Gray reveals motivation for joining Tottenham after Leeds exit

Archie Gray “couldn’t say no” to Tottenham Hotspur, he has revealed, after the 18-year-old joined Spurs from a “heartbroken” Leeds United side.

Gray, 18, has attracted plenty of admirers after a stunningly successful season and Brentford had a bid in the region of £35m rejected on Sunday.

That opened the door for Spurs to pursue the England Under-21 international, who has signed a six-year deal with the Premier League club after paying a fee of between £25m and £30m to secure his services, along with the appeal of former loanee Joe Rodon returning to Leeds on a permanent basis.

“When Spurs came and I had the opportunity to play in the Champions League eventually and the Europa League this year, I really couldn’t say no,” Gray said in his first Tottenham interview.

“I know so many players who are here, not so much the first team but the young lads and the other thing is it’s a massive project under Ange and it’s something I want to be part of. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a massive Celtic fan so I love it and all my family love it.

“He’s also a massive factor because playing under a very good coach is very important for me as well. I still have a lot to learn because I’m only 18, so it’s very important.”

Leeds have defended the sale of their young star, insisting their hands were tied by a release clause and that Gray’s departure has left them “heartbroken”.

“While we understand that supporters will be extremely disappointed to lose such a homegrown talent and a family name so synonymous with Leeds United, the move enhances the club’s chances of competing for automatic promotion next season, enhancing our ability to build a competitive squad within the league’s financial control regulations,” Leeds said.

“Everyone at Leeds United is heartbroken to see one of our own go.” They said Spurs had “fulfilled a release clause that was triggered by the club’s failure to gain promotion at the first attempt”.

Archie Gray has completed a big-money move to Tottenham (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA wire)

Leeds’ failure to secure promotion via the Championship play-offs in May has put pressure on them to make at least one lucrative sale to comply with financial fair play rules.

The versatile Gray flourished under Leeds manager Daniel Farke last season, becoming one of his most valuable assets, making 52 appearances in all competitions at both right-back and central midfield following his league debut in August against Cardiff.

Coming from a prestigious footballing family, with his great-uncle Eddie Gray of Leeds and his father Andy also playing for the Elland Road club, Archie won the Championship Young Player of the Year award and also excelled during a run to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Chelsea had shown interest in the Leeds academy graduate, as had a number of other top-flight clubs, but Gray was convinced that Tottenham were the best destination for him after talks with Ange Postecoglou and that he would have the chance to play in the Europa League with the north London side.

Despite his ability to play in defense, Gray sees himself as a future midfielder.

“Obviously I see myself as a midfielder as my ideal position, but I don’t relegate myself to one position,” he said. “I think I’m a versatile player and I can play in many positions on the pitch, which is really effective when you have so many competitions and so many games this year.

“You don’t want to have too big a squad and it can be very useful for the team to be very versatile and I’m not worried about where I’m going to play, I’m just going to give 100 per cent and that’s all that really matters and try to do my best here.”

Wales international Rodon has gone in the other direction, ending his four-year spell at Spurs.

Rodon signed for Swansea in 2020 but has played just 24 times for Tottenham, with his last appearance for the club coming two years ago as a late substitute against Burnley at the end of the 2021-22 season.

After spending the last two seasons on loan at Rennes and then Leeds, the 26-year-old has returned to the latter after signing a four-year deal.

Additional reporting by PA