Out-of-favour Jamaican continues stuttering season in Germany
Leon Bailey, the Jamaican-born whizzy winger who turned down a move to Chelsea earlier this year, continues to struggle for form.
The 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder has not scored since 1 September, and has seemingly fallen out of favour with the struggling Germany giants.
Craig Butler, his stepfather and agent, recently blasted the Bundesliga club for not giving Bailey enough playing time and controversially made it clear that during the festive season he will reassess his protégé’s career.
But Leverkusen sport chief Rudi Vöeller considers it to be a mere blip.
Bailey moved from Genk in Belgium to Germany for €20m during the January 2017 transfer window, and took the league by storm by bagging a nine goals and providing six assists.
Last season’s energetic displays attracted the attention of leading Premier League clubs including Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Butler advised Bailey to continue to cut his teeth in the top flight in Germany and turned down a £30m bid from Chelsea in January.
His value increased during the 2017-18 campaign but this term Bailey appears to have lost his spark and has been struggling to make the starting line-up under coach Heiko Herrlich.
But he has made back-to-back substitute appearances although failed to impress as a second-half substitute in last week’s Europa League 5-1 thrashing of minnows AEK Larnaca in Cyprus. He was thrown on as Leverkusen desperately chased an equaliser but succumbed at 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt as their stuttering season continued.
And now legendary footballer Vöeller, the Leverkusen sport chief, has shown some support for Bailey as he is aware that he is a valuable commodity.
Vöeller explained: “Sometimes the expectation level is so high that you think you have to score every week.
“Young players can fall into a little slump after a rocket start. It helps to get your head down and keep getting on with it, Leon does that.”
Butler will be furious that such a naturally talented player as Bailey is keeping the bench warm and will seemingly listen to offers around Europe during the next transfer window.
However, those prestigious Premier League clubs monitoring him have a record of signing up-and-coming players then loaning them out so that their rivals cannot have them.
Butler fumed: “We appreciate the opportunity to serve the club, and Bayer Leverkusen fans are some of the best in the world, so we are grateful. But over the holidays, we will sit as a family and discuss our next move forward.”
Bailey’s brilliance has been untested on either the international stage with Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz or the Champions League, so a step up to an elite European club would be a gamble for all parties.
Whether Butler is prepared to gamble when he has carefully selected Bailey’s progress remains to be seen, and at least Butler is never drawn by lucrative deals merely aiming to get his protégé to the top by showcasing his silky skills.
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