Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey is no stranger to speculation surrounding his future.
The winger has been courted by a whole host of Premier League heavyweights at one time or another with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all previously credited with an interest in securing his signature.
Bailey is once again attracting admiring glances from these shores with Aston Villa desperate to secure his services, though – as exclusively revealed by 90min recently – they now face stiff competition from Everton, Wolves and Southampton.
With the Jamaica international possibly on his way to England this summer (again), we’ve provided you with a rundown of everything you need to know about the talented winger…
Bailey’s route to top level football has been anything but ordinary.
The winger started out at Jamaica-based footballing school Phoenix All-Star Academy before him and his step-father headed to Europe in search of a club.
Having tried their luck in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, Bailey impressed during a trial at KRC Genk, though the Belgian side were unable to offer him a contract due to him being only 15.
A pre-contract was signed – something not permitted in Belgium – and after the authorities got wind of said agreement Bailey was forced to move back to Jamaica.
He eventually returned to Europe where he signed for Austrian side Liefering before moving to Slovakian outfit AS Trencin. Then in 2015 his career went full circle and he ended up back at Genk – certainly a story for his grandkids.
You might not think being named the best young player in the Belgian league is a particularly great accolade, but when you hear the list of previous winners you’ll realise it’s a big deal.
Bailey was awarded the Young Belgian Footballer of the Year in 2015/16 during his time with Genk, joining a roll of honour including Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel and Vincent Kompany.
Aston Villa striker Wesley won the award two years after Bailey, and if the Villans do secure the Jamaican’s signature they’ll hope he has more luck in the Premier League than the Brazilian.
While Bailey can regularly be found speaking in glowing terms about Jamaica in interviews, his relationship with the national side hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
The Leverkusen winger has openly admitted he’s had problems with the Jamaican FA in the past, with his step-father also adamant he would never play for his country.
Having accepted a call-up to the senior side in 2018, Bailey went back on his decision after the Jamaican FA refused to bow to his demand of calling his brother (who’s also a footballer) up alongside him – bit weird.
Eventually he stopped with his diva-like demands and he finally made his international debut in 2019.
Given the problems he initially incurred with Jamaica, it’s probably no surprise to hear Bailey was exploring his options.
There were thoughts that the winger could be eligible to play for England earlier in his career, with fans taking to social media to beg Bailey to switch his allegiance to the Three Lions.
The rumours came about because two of Bailey’s grandparents have British passports, but as they weren’t born in England he didn’t qualify to play for the Three Lions.
Shame, we’re sure Gareth Southgate would have been happy for him to bring his brother along with him…
We’ve already mentioned that Bailey has previously attracted interest from a few of Europe’s big hitters, but Manchester United’s interest reportedly saw them even go as far as to table a bid.
Prior to joining Bayer Leverkusen in 2017, the Red Devils attempted to lure the youngster to the bright lights of the Premier League, and the only thing that stopped the move was Bailey turned them down in favour of a move to the Bundesliga!
Well, it looks to have turned out pretty well for him, but that’s still some going.
Naturally you’re probably wondering what sort of player we could be seeing arrive in the Premier League this summer, so here you go…
Bailey’s pace is easily one of his best attributes and despite being predominantly left-footed he’s also capable of cutting onto his right,
Given he can play with both feet he’s comfortable on either side of a front three or on the wing of midfield four, but the former suits his style of play best as he’s proven to have a decent eye for goal.
Bailey’s unbelievable free-kick against Bayern Munich a few seasons ago showcased his ability from dead-ball situations, and any team lucky enough to sign him is getting themselves an absolute gem.