Leon Bailey, the pacy Jamaican winger, is on the radar of a number of English top-flight clubs with Aston Villa the favourite to sign the 23-year-old.
The Kingston-born midfield maestro, currently in the United States on duty with the Reggae Boyz at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, has been trying to escape the German Bundesliga for around a year.
But a £30 million (US$41m) bid has been turned down by his Bayer Leverkusen club, who installed Gerardo Seoane as head coach on a one-year contract from 1 July. Seoane spent the past three seasons in his native Switzerland, where he brilliantly guided Young Boys to a hat-trick of league titles.
With Villa lining up Bailey as a potential replacement for Jack Grealish, the England ace expected to join EPL champions Manchester City around £90m (US$123m), then Leverkusen are in a strong position to demand more money for a player who had an electrifying 2020-21 season.
Bailey, whose campaign was cut short by a toe injury, scored 15 times last term and made nine goal assists in 40 competitive matches. It was a vast improvement on his previous season, and he really only came to life after Leverkusen head coach Peter Rosz was axed in March and was replaced by interim head coach Hannes Wolf.
But Bailey’s two performances at the Gold Cup, the stuttering triumphs over Suriname and Guadeloupe, have been far from impressive. He was rested against Costa Rica, which the Boyz lost 1-0 against the run of the play. Bailey is expected to win his 11th cap and face the United States in the quarter-final showdown, when he could show his silky skills once more.
Having turned down bids to move to the English top tier from Chelsea (2019), Leeds United (2020) and now Aston Villa it seems that maybe Bailey, who has another two years left to run on his Leverkusen contract at the Bay Arena, may prefer to stay in Germany.
Last year he enlisted the same London-based agent as Jamaican-born England football star Raheem Sterling in a seemingly desperate bid to compete in English Premier League (EPL).
Press releases were coming out from the agents at a rapid pace as Bailey made it blatantly clear that he no longer saw eye-to-eye with former Dutch international Rosz. At the time he was heavily linked, despite woeful form, with a trio of top tier English clubs comprising Everton, Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Everton, who this month appointed former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, have targeted Bailey once more but have yet to table a proposal.
Arsenal showed serious interest until their background checks last week unveiled “attitude” issues relating to him and his adoptive father/manager Craig Butler.
However, Villa remain undeterred and lead the charge for Bailey whose impressive form included five goals in eight Europa League outings.
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