Chelsea Reportedly Still Interested in Manchester United Target Leon Bailey

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

BREMEN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 28: Leon Bailey of Bayer 04 Leverkusen controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between SV Werder Bremen and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Weserstadion on October 28, 2018 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Leon Bailey continues to attract interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, with the Premier League duo reportedly still scouting the Bayer Leverkusen winger. 

The Blues and Red Devils are running the rule over Bailey ahead of possibly bidding for the 21-year-old during the January transfer window, per TuttoMercatoWeb (h/t TalkSport).

Those plans could be scuppered already, though, after Leverkusen sporting director Jonas Boldt told Bild (h/t Metro): "We all know that Leon will eventually leave. But we have made it clear that a winter transfer is out of the question. He also knows that he has our backing."

Boldt may not be willing to let one of his prized assets go this winter, but Bailey might have other ideas. Specifically, the gifted young attacker could push for a move if his playing time doesn't increase.

Leverkusen don't plan to sell Bailey in January.
Leverkusen don't plan to sell Bailey in January.PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld recently quoted an unnamed source lamenting how not starting is damaging Bailey's ambitions: "Leon is 21 now, with aspirations of being one of the world's top players. He can't do so from the bench in Leverkusen."

The same source also said a January exit would be considered if Bailey's situation doesn't improve. 

Bailey has started only five of 10 matches in the Bundesliga and come off the bench in the other five. He's also been on the bench for one of Leverkusen's three games in the UEFA Europa League.

It's little wonder interested suitors remain keen. Among them, Chelsea have been linked with the versatile Jamaican for a while.

Bailey has been spending too much time on the Leverkusen bench this season.
Bailey has been spending too much time on the Leverkusen bench this season.TF-Images/Getty Images

Bailey recently revealed during an interview with FourFourTwo how the Blues have been interested in him since he "was maybe 14 or 15." He also said Chelsea were one of many Premier League giants keen when he left Genk for Leverkusen in 2017, but Bailey didn't believe the timing was right for such a move.

Things may be different now, though. Chelsea could use Bailey and his ability to operate on either flank or through the middle.

Bailey's talent for taking the ball past defenders would also be welcome, particularly in a wide role:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Most dribbles completed in the latest round of Bundesliga fixtures: 8 • 🇧🇪 Dodi Lukebakio (21) 5 • 🇯🇲 Leon Bailey (21) 5 • 🇩🇪 Daniel Caligiuri 5 • 🇹🇬 Ihlas Bebou Doppelpack. https://t.co/xmZQfKc2Qu

He would help refresh Chelsea's attack by adding youth to manager Maurizio Sarri's forward line. However, playing time may be hard to come by initially since Sarri can already call on Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro on the wings and both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata through the middle.

Bailey must choose carefully between the big clubs interested him to ensure he gets the playing time he desires.