Leon Bailey’s week keeps improving as the Kingston-born star set up his club’s opening goal last night, in his first game back for Bayer Leverkusen since he became a proud father to a son on Sunday.
Having missed two matches because of the birth of his only child, the whizzy winger made an immediate impace with a seventh-minute goal assist in Leverusen’s 3-1 triumph over visitors FC Köln.
Although it was not Bailey’s best performance, hauled off after 63 minutes, the 22-year-old set up fellow midfielder Sven Bender with a telling corner to get the ball rolling and open the scoring.
The unmarked German starlet Kai Havertz scored six minutes before half-time to put the industrious hosts in charge. But Sebastian Bornauw reduced the arrears on 58 minutes with a solid header, with Bailey shortly substituted in a tactical move by head coach Peter Rosz. The contest soon became a midfield battle of atrition, with Moussa Diaby polishing off FC Köln with the third goal seven minutes from the final whistle.
Bailey’s club, who are chasing a Champions League spot, moved up to fourth in the German top tier following their latest success.
But Bailey, who appears unhappy plying his trade in the German Bundesliga under Rosz, has three years left on his contract with a clutch of clubs following his progress. It emerged this week that Arsenal, and especially Manchester United, are strong candidates for his signature.
Bailey is no stranger to the English Premier League (EPL) as he turned down a £30m move to Chelsea two seasons ago, when Italian Antonio Conte was in charge, with his stepfather and agent Craig Butler adamant that his protege needs to hone his trade in Germany.
Following his indifferent campaign last term, hindered by injury, and failing to live up to his high expectations during the current stop-start season – with niggling injuries, a pair of red cards and falling out of favour under Rosz – then an escape route to the EPL could be just what £40m-rated Bailey seeks.
Although he only has two more league games remaining this season, he also has the chance to put himself in the international shop window. Leverkusen tackle Bayern Munich in the German DFB Cup final on 4 July, a club that were considering a swoop for Bailey but he flopped when they faced each other in the league on 6 June. And Bailey will relish the Europa League last 16 second leg against Rangers on 5 August, having bagged a wonder goal in the win over the Scottish giants in Glasgow in March.
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