Could Archie Gray be Borussia Dortmund’s next big English success story?

According to reports from this month, Borussia Dortmund is the preferred move for English top talent Archie Gray should he leave Leeds United. How would he fit in at BVB? 
Leeds United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Leeds United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages
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Archie Gray, Alex Gilbert
Middlesbrough v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship / Ed Sykes/GettyImages

Archie Gray: Player profile

The name Archie Gray will be all too familiar to anyone who’s followed the English Championship this season. Leeds currently sit in third place in the table, and that’s certainly down in part to the efforts of Gray, who’s ties to the club transcend mere boyhood fandom. Gray comes from a long line of players to ply their trade for Leeds, with his father Andy and his grandfather Frank also holding legend status for the club as a striker and defender respectively. 

Gray’s chosen position in a perfect world is a more box to box or defensive position in midfield, but in this current season he’s made the majority of his appearances in defense for Leeds, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. This leads me to the first point I want to bring up about the 18 year old: his overall maturity and versatility. 

It’s all too common for footballer’s these days to make a stink about wanting to play in x position or not being happy with minutes on the pitch,(and in some cases we can say they are validated), but 18 year old Gray has shown a level of maturity and versatility well beyond his years. Gray has, without question, slotted into the role former Dortmund alumni Daniel Farke has fashioned for him out of necessity, without complaints, and has been ready to help his team despite not being a natural defender per se. The experience has not only highlighted his versatility but also his willingness to put his team over himself, which on its own is an impressive trait for any player to display, let alone one so young. 

The versatility in itself also displays and advanced understanding of the game, and his ability to slot in as a defender in times of need is also a boon for any club he chooses to sign for. Of course, at Dortmund, his first priority would be to bring some stability to the midfield. 

Gray’s play at the center of the park is the main barometer by which any sort of transfer would be judged, and from what he’s shown over the course of his admittedly short career, he seems like a very exciting player in this respect. Gray has been described as a player with a very strong ability to drive at opponents through the center of the pitch, which barring Marcel Sabitzer’s most recent performances in this vein, has been sorely lacking in this Dortmund side. Gray has shown himself to be a solid technical dribbler despite his larger frame, and his offensive qualities are complemented by strong defensive qualities such as his ability to time tackles, and he has been commneded for his ability to know when to drive the ball forward and when he needs to circulate possession. 

Because of the fact that he’s played at right back for most of this season, his numbers are rather skewed from what they would have been had he been allowed to thrive in midfield, hence mentioning them wouldn’t really make the most sense at this time. What we can highlight however is that despite his core talents being those of a midfielder, Leeds trusted this youngster to play right back in a season where they are pushing for promotion.

This likely comes down to the aforementioned timing and ability to put in a tackle, coupled with his calm demeanor under pressure. Gray has taken this in stride and has done what his club has needed him to do so that he can help them push for that promotion spot, and that takes a strong mentality, especially from a player still developing. 

Gray’s efforts have also managed to earn him recognition as the Championship Young Player of the Year, a distinction that Gray himself has shown pride on yet remained quite humble about: 

"I'm honored to win this award, having heard the previous names that have won it. I've just got to stay humble and keep on working hard because I've come a long way. I've gained a lot of experience and learned a lot of new things along the way."

Archie Gray

Gray’s performances have helped Leeds achieve 20 clean sheets this season, and the experience he’s garnered through playing out of position will help strengthen his overall skills as a footballer. Gray noted that his ability to fill the role also came down to the support of his teammates:

"I trusted my ability but I've been lucky with the teammates and manager that I've got. Since I've come in when I was 15, my teammates have all been really helpful with me. Especially this season, Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu when I've been moving to right-back and teaching me a lot of things and analyzing things with me after the game."

Archie Gray

Natural ability, mentality and capacity for reflection and self-analysis are the basis upon which a young player builds a foundation for a bright future. Gray seems to possess all these things in ample supply and therefore has all the tools to succeed as a footballer. Dortmund, with their current restructuring, will seemingly lean towards helping young diamonds develop once again, especially with the return of Sven Mislintat as technical director now confirmed. If the finances are right, a move for Gray could prove extremely beneficial from both the club and player’s standpoint in the long term.