Leon Bailey, the Jamaican midfielder who initially lit up the German Bundesliga when he joined three years ago, saw his club narrowly miss out on earning a place in next season’s Champions League.
The Kingston-born star, who despite an indifferent 18 months remains on the radar of leading English Premier League (EPL) sides, was given the nod to start in his team’s stuttering 1-0 home win over Mainz on Saturday (27 June).
But Bailey, who recently became a father for the first time, was hauled off by coach Peter Rosz after 65 minutes having failed to make much of an impression in the final league game of the stop-start 2019-20 campaign.
Finishing outside the top four this term means that 5th-placed Leverkusen will have to compete once more in the Europa League, a tournament that they remain in this season.
Bailey was in scorching form with his thunderous goal against Rangers in the opening leg of the last 16 of this term’s Europa League against Rangers in March. And the 22-year-old should be able to turn his attention to the competition in August, when the rejigged current edition resumes following the coronavirus pandemic and he will be expected to tackle the Scottish giants in the second leg.
Rosz’s charges had collected just four points from their past four Bundesliga games, which had handed the initiative to Borussia Mönchengladbach to clinch their Champions League berth at the expense of local rivals Leverkusen.
For Bailey’s team only a final day of the season defeat for their closest rivals would have allowed them to claim a place at European football’s top table, but Mönchengladbach defeated Hertha Berlin 2-1 that made Leverkusen’s 1-0 success insignificant. Kevin Volland, who was picked ahead of £100m-valued German striker Kai Havertz, proved his worth by grabbing the only goal in the second minute of a drab contest.
With both Bailey and Havertz heavily linked to a clutch of top EPL clubs this term, Leverkusen may need to cash in on their rising stars after missing out on the financial benefits of competing in the lucrative Champions League.
Although there was no final day fireworks from Bailey, he does have a second opportunity to impress potential suitors Bayern Munich in next weekend’s DFB Cup final following his recent lacklustre league performance against the champions.
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