Leon Bailey, heavily linked with an imminent move away from German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, is likely to be handed the Europa League stage to impress potential suitors next month.
Progress would pitch Leverkusen against either Italian heavyweights Inter Milan or Spanish side Getafe, who are involved in a one-off match rather than two legs. The quarter-final showdown is scheduled to be tackled on 10 or 11 August.
The other last 16 tie that didn’t take place because of the ground pre-lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic was Spain’s Sevilla against Italian highfliers AS Roma, so they will also compete over just a single game. The winners are due to face Greek outfit Olympiakos or English Premier League (EPL) side Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The entire tournament from the quarter-final stage has altered to be played over just one game, and Bailey’s club have been handed a favourable draw with a semi-final berth beckoning against the winner of Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg – the German side trailing 2-1 from the opening leg – and Swiss club Basel or Eintracht Frankfurt although the Germans trail 3-0 going into their second leg.
Bailey, on the radar of a clutch of EPL teams after twice failing to impress potential suitors Bayern Munich in league and cup action this season, is known to favour an exit from Leverkusen. He has not been first choice to start games since the side brought in new coach Peter Rosz, and will be deeply disappointed that the club narrowly failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
But the good news for the midfield maestro, having played this campaign in the shadow of German international Kai Havertz, is that because Rosz missed out on reaching the Champions League the club will happily sell players. Havertz is being strongly linked with a £100m move to either EPL’s Chelsea or Spain’s Real Madrid.
Leverkusen have placed a hefty £30m transfer tag on Bailey, whose past 18 months have admittedly been indifferent, although English top-flight teams Everton and Manchester United are showing interest if a cut-price deal can be agreed. On the other hand, without playing fiddle to 21-year-old Havertz next term gives fans’ favourite Bailey the chance to shine once more in the Bundesliga.
Before he concentrates on next season, the Reggae Boyz’ star will be aiming to shine on the Europa League stage. If his lightening pace down the left wing and his silky skills are back on show then the curtains could come down on his Leverkusen adventure with the Jamaican plying his trade at a new club.
Europa League draw
5-6 August | last 16
Basel v Eintracht Frankfurt (1st leg 0-3)
Bayer Leverkusen v Rangers (3-1)
Copenhagen v Istanbul Basaksehir (0-1)
Inter Milan v Getafe (1st leg abandoned)
Manchester United v LASK (5-0)
Sevilla v Roma (1st leg abandoned)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Wolfsburg (2-1)
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Olympiakos (1-1)
10-11 August | quarter-finals
Inter Milan/Getafe v Rangers/Bayer Leverkusen
LASK/Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir/Copenhagen
Olympiakos/Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla/AS Roma
Wolfsburg/Shakhtar Donetsk v Eintracht Frankfurt/Basel
16-17 August | semi-finals
Winner of Inter Milan/Getafe v Rangers/Bayer Leverkusen v winner of Wolfsburg/Shakhtar Donetsk v Eintracht Frankfurt/Basel
Winner of Olympiakos/Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla/AS Roma v winner of LASK/Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir/Copenhagen
21 August | final
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