Analysing Premier League Landing Spots for Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey
If you haven't heard of Leon Bailey, you will soon. Simply put, he is one of the most exciting players in the Bundesliga.
The 20-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger has pace to burn and the skill to leave defenders on their backsides. He's got end product too, with 10 goals and five assists to his name this season.
No surprise, then, that he is being linked with a big-money move next summer, but Leverkusen won't let him leave unless a heft price tag is met—he already has a valuation of around £50 million.
The player himself has stated on numerous occasions he dreams of a move to the Premier League, and that's where he is most likely to find himself playing football next season.
So which team will win the battle for his signature?
Chelsea Lead the Way
Let's start with the most likely scenario, as Chelsea have already made moves to negotiate a deal for the Jamaica-born wide man.
The Blues monitored him during his days at Belgian club Genk but decided not to make a move as the player made a £13 million switch to Leverkusen in January 2017.
It was decided they would instead watch his progression from afar, but they quickly began to realise he had all the attributes that could help him succeed in England.
One year after that transfer, sources suggest Chelsea have been in touch with the German club over a potential deal—and were willing to pay almost double his previous fee.
Leverkusen turned their noses up, though. The player was making such an impact that even £22 million would not guarantee they could fill his boots with a ready-made replacement. There was also a feeling that with inflating transfer fees, he would soon be worth much more.
It is expected Chelsea will inquire about his availability again in the summer, and that will become especially likely if Eden Hazard moves on.
Interestingly, Bailey was pictured in a Chelsea kit three years ago. The picture caused a social media buzz at the end of 2017, circulating among Blues fans. But are they his ideal club?
Manchester United Are the Dream
At the turn of the year, Bailey said: "I have a dream club, but I will not tell."
Chelsea fans hope that club is theirs, but figures who know the player believe otherwise.
One B/R source close to the situation said: "Almost everyone from Jamaica has a dream of joining only one team—and that team is Manchester United. He is no different."
Throw in the fact he is close pals with retired sprinter Usain Bolt, a Jamaican superstar and huge United fan, and it might just make sense.
However, such a move would seem almost impossible in this climate. United have signed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the past year, and manager Jose Mourinho is not on the lookout for any more attacking figures.
Still, they weren't initially in the hunt for either of those forwards, so it's difficult to rule out a move for Bailey.
Insiders say Arsenal were also watching his situation ahead of the most recent transfer window, but with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now on board and Mesut Ozil signed up on a new deal, a new attacker is not expected to arrive at Emirates Stadium in the summer, either.
Liverpool Like His Style
We all know how Jurgen Klopp likes his Liverpool side to attack with a certain pizzazz, so it should come as no surprise that they are beginning to sniff around Bailey.
Interestingly, the Sunday People's Steve Bates recently suggested Liverpool have decided to turn to Bailey after giving up their pursuit of AS Monaco's Thomas Lemar (h/t the Mirror). Bates also said the winger could cost £100 million—but if that's the case, it is unlikely anyone will be signing him.
The Reds are on the lookout for new talent, as they have the cash from Philippe Coutinho's £142 million move to Barcelona to spend. Bailey is not likely to be the top target, though, as Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic is more ingrained in Klopp's mind ahead of the next transfer window.
Tottenham Now Unlikely
Tottenham Hotspur's scouts were instructed to shortlist Europe's best wingers last year, and Bailey was soon one of the players being discussed.
He had made the move to Leverkusen, but it was decided they would monitor his displays and weigh up his situation at a later date.
While they were regularly impressed by his showings, club staff always felt it would be difficult to purchase him so soon after he had left Genk.
Interestingly, Girondins de Bordeaux's Malcom was also on the list. He remains there—ahead of Bailey.
Manchester City Wait in the Background
Chelsea may be the club that most desires Bailey, and United are apparently the team he dreams of representing. But if neither of those moves comes off, how about a move to another club in Manchester?
City boss Pep Guardiola is never satisfied with the strength of his squad, and in January, he attempted to sign winger Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City.
Bailey falls into a similar price bracket and could be coached to fit ideally into City's style of play.
Another reason for City fans to get excited? He is also good friends with Raheem Sterling and is in contact with him regularly. So could the pair link up at the Etihad Stadium?
Speaking to sources close to the Manchester City recruitment team, Bailey is not an active target, but he is a player they have comprehensive scouting reports on and continue to monitor.
Just as the player has not decided which country he wants to represent at international level—he's eligible for England, as well as Jamaica, Germany and Belgium—there is not a definite destination for his next move.
As we head towards the end of the season, there is no doubt he will be making headlines as the Premier League's elite fight for his signature.