By Noel Whelan

6th Oct, 2021 | 8:00am

Pundit makes 'ridiculous' Gray claim in 'massive' Everton transfer verdict

Noel Whelan has insisted Everton boss Rafa Benitez deserves “massive credit” for taking a gamble on signing Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray this summer.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed Gray, 25, is the “best transfer of the season”.

The ex-Leicester man combined with Abdoulaye Doucoure to set up Townsend to score in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

The summer arrivals have contributed a combined six goals and four assists in seven league games for Everton this term.

As quoted by the Independent last month, Benitez revealed he kept tabs on Gray for four years before eventually landing his man with the Toffees.

Whelan insisted Benitez should reap the plaudits for his transfer business after transforming the duo’s careers.

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He deserves massive credit for getting the best out of them. Also for taking a chance on them,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“The man-management skills that Rafa has because of the respect for what he’s done in the game means Everton are enjoying their football right now.

“If you’d have asked me before the season about whether they would have succeeded – I’d have said no.

“Rafa has seen something in them and transformed their careers – they’re playing the best football of their lives.

“They are paying Benitez back ten-fold right now.

“Demarai Gray has to be the best transfer of the season for £1.7million – wow, that’s ridiculous!”

After their time together at Newcastle, Townsend linked up with Benitez again on a free after leaving Crystal Palace.

Gray sealed a move to the Goodison Park club just days later for a reported £1.7million.

In other news, pundit predicts Everton will sell big 2019 signing.