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Archie Gray reveals motivation behind joining Tottenham after Leeds exit

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

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

It opened the door for Spurs to swoop for the England Under-21 international, who has signed a six-year deal with the Premier League club after they paid a fee between £25m and £30m to secure his services alongside the sweetener of former loanee Joe Rodon going back to Leeds on a permanent basis.

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

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

“He’s also a massive factor because playing under a really good manager is really important for me as well. I’ve still got loads to learn because I’m only 18 so it’s really important.”

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

“Whilst we understand that supporters will be hugely disappointed to lose such a homegrown talent, and a family name so synonymous with Leeds United, the move improves the club’s chance to compete for automatic promotion next season by increasing 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 depart.” They said Spurs had “met a release clause that was triggered by the club’s failure to get promoted at the first attempt”.

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

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

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

The versatile Gray flourished under Leeds boss Daniel Farke last season to become one of their most valuable assets, going on to make 52 appearances in all competitions at both right-back and in the centre of midfield after his league debut in August against Cardiff.

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

Chelsea registered an interest in the Leeds academy graduate alongside a host of other top-flight clubs, but Gray was convinced Tottenham was the best destination for him after talks with Ange Postecoglou and will get the chance to play Europa League football with the north London outfit.

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

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

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

Wales international Rodon has gone in the other direction, bringing to an end his four-year stay at Spurs.

Rodon signed from Swansea in 2020 but only played 24 times for Tottenham with his last outing for the club two years ago as a late substitute against Burnley towards the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

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

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