Leon Bailey, the midfield maestro who this term has lived in the shadows of Bayer Leverkusen team-mate Kai Havertz, is now allegedly being chased by ambitious Everton.
The 22-year-old, who lasted 76 minutes with a largely anonymous performance at last weekend’s 4-2 German Cup final defeat to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, is believed to be on the radar of ever-improving Everton.
Since head coach Carlo Ancelotti took over at the helm, the team have steadily climbed up the English Premier League (EPL) table and remain in the chase for a Europa League spot.
Bailey, who is expected to tackle the Europa League second leg of the last 16 against Scottish giants Rangers next month, has just missed out with Leverkusen on scooping a place in next season’s Champions League and would prefer to join a club that can offer him Champions League football.
His season has been a rollercoaster ride under head coach Peter Rosz, and it is transparent from various interviews that the pair do not see eye-to-eye.
Kingston-born Bailey has had a stop-start season, suffering niggling injuries and often under-performing. As a result the £75m tag the club slapped on Bailey three years is more realistically hovering around the £20m mark.
After Bailey turned down a £30m move to Chelsea a few seasons ago for the simple reason that he didn’t want to languish on the bench nor be loaned out, a handful of leading EPL clubs have monitored the Jamaican international.
However, an indifferent 18 months with only a handful of standout displays has left him constantly playing second fiddle to 21-year-old rising star Havertz. Although the attacking pair have teamed up well at times, it has been the German attracting attention from top teams around Europe that has at least left Bailey under the scrutiny of endless scouts as a cheaper option.
His contract at Leverkusen runs until 2023, but as the club are happy to cash in on £100m-rated Havertz they are also believed to be open to an offer of around £30m for Bailey if any of the EPL clubs table a deal.
Everton have jumped the queue to obtain Bailey’s signature although he has also been heavily linked to other English giants such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool despite failing to live up to the high expectations on his young shoulders this term.
As the EPL transfer window draws ever closer, the whizzy winger remains one of the most talked about rising stars in the Bundesliga and having signed for London-based Colossal Sports Management in mid-June he appears to favour a move to England. Colossal Sports, who seem to be helping him generate plenty of attention with transfer rumours rife, also look after Jamaican-born England and Manchester City superstar Raheem Sterling.
It is only a question of time when talks between Bailey’s representatives and Leverkusen will take place now that the domestic season in Germany is done and dusted. Whether his valuation to an EPL outfit is tempting enough remains to be seen, but the Reggae Boy does appear to want to quickly tackle his exit strategy with Everton his latest potential suitor.
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