Rafa Benitez has claimed Demarai Gray is ‘so ambitious’ and praised the Everton forward for striving to improve in training every day at Finch Farm, via the Toffees’ club website.

Gray was one of Benitez’s four signings after taking charge at Goodison Park this summer. The Blues paid Bayer Leverkusen £1.7m to bring the winger back to England after leaving Leicester for Germany in January. He made 10 outings in the Bundesliga, scoring once.

He has already tripled his Die Werkself record since moving to Merseyside on a three-year contract in July. Gray has scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances after starting all four of Everton’s opening fixtures.

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Yet Gray has impressed Benitez by continuing to strive for better at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground. The Spaniard admires his determination to improve and offer the Toffees even more than he has shown so far.

“[Gray] is training so well and is so ambitious to do well,” Benitez said. “He will try every day to improve, to be a better player, to score goals and give assists. He knows he has to be consistent, and I am supporting him 100% and demanding more from him every game.”

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Benitez will hope Gray can add a fourth goal to his account on Saturday when Everton visit Aston Villa. The Toffees are unbeaten in the league this season, while Dean Smith’s side have one win in four. They have also lost twice, including a 3-0 loss at Chelsea last week.

Can Benitez extract even more from Gray at Everton?

Gray hit the ground running at Everton with a sharp performance on debut under Benitez against Southampton last month. He produced some delightful moments on the ball and kept pushing forward, but without the end product. That arrived at Leeds, however.

The former England U21 international threatened the Whites with almost each foray into their half of the pitch. Gray also produced numerous inviting crosses to raise the tempo even further, and arrowed a strike past Illan Meslier for his first goal in Royal Blue.

Benitez will have been delighted to see Gray again prove himself as one of Everton’s most threatening options against Brighton. The Birmingham-born dynamo’s direct runs into the Seagull’s area, this time, his most dangerous commodity. While against Burnley, he capped a fine run through the middle by slotting home his third Toffees goal.

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