Former Scotland international Alan Hutton has defended Demarai Gray, claiming that Everton are in store for an exciting acquisition.

The former England under-21 is set to join the Toffees on a three-year deal following an update from respected Italian sports journalist Fabrizio Romano.

The Milan-based expert has confirmed that Gray to Everton is a ‘done deal’, with the Toffees forking out a mere £1.7m to sign him from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.

The club will also retain the option to extend the deal of the former Leicester and Birmingham City man for a further year.

Gray joined Leverkusen for a similar fee in January. He impressed and scored on his debut but failed to register another goal in his later nine appearances, falling out of plans at the BayArena.

Consequentially, the unwanted home-grown left-winger looks set to return to English football having been outcasted by Leverkusen.

Despite failing to hit the peak of his powers, Hutton has backed Gray to continue to offer plenty to the club.

Speaking to Football Insider, the pundit claimed:

“I always liked him, going right back to when he was at Birmingham.

“He got the big move which didn’t work but he’s still quite young.

“We know what he’s capable of and £1.5 million is a brilliant price. He can still develop, he can still get better under the guidance of a good manager which Benitez is.

“I think that (signing) is an absolute no-brainer. I know it’s gone a bit stale for him recently but everything could change in a heartbeat. He’s got the potential to be a very exciting player.

“It’s just about getting that confidence back and I think he’ll get that by playing games.”

Read Everton Verdict

At such a nominal fee in relation to his £7.2 million market value [via Transfermarkt], the low fee offsets any real risk in a deal.

In that view, a 25-year-old squad option on a long-term deal retains the potential to serve as a utility asset under Rafa Benitez for years to come.