Although teams are likely to be more cautious going into the next transfer window, the interest surrounding Leon Bailey doesn’t appear to have reduced which indicates the 22-year-old’s talent. The explosive left winger has gradually been attracting interest from several Premier League teams over the last two seasons and, if reports are to be believed, it is now likely that a number of clubs are lining up bids to secure his services.
Bailey joined Leverkusen on deadline day in January 2017 and his explosive pace and brilliant dead ball abilities have mean that he has become a key part of an exciting young team that also includes starlets Kai Havertz, Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri, who are also attracting interest. There are people who may point out that his returns this season only read as 5 goals scored and 3 assists in 22 Bundesliga appearances this season, however this overlooks his ability to terrify defenders and draw defenders towards him which, in turn, creates space for his teammates to deploy their talents.
Two of the Premier League title contenders, Liverpool and Manchester City, are both showing a lot of interest in Bailey. For City the deal would make sense as he would be a like for like replacement for the recently departed Leroy Sane and provide them with a natural winger once again. In addition, despite Sane leaving for a cut-price deal at £40.50m, Bailey is likely to be available for around this fee and therefore no net financial outlay would be necessary to replace the German. The Jamaican winger would also be expected to have lower wage demands.
Liverpool would also stand to benefit as Shaqiri appears to be looking for an exit over the summer and they will need players to rotate with, and ease the goalscoring burden on, the fearsome front three that Klopp has assembled. The Reds failed pursuit of Timo Werner leaves Klopp short of attacking depth and due to his lower asking price, Bailey could be a more suitable target.
Manchester United are also emerging as another option for Bailey as they continue to rebuild under Solskjaer. The Jamaican international would fit in well given the pace that United already have at their disposal. However, with the recent emergence of Mason Greenwood, alongside the more established players Martial, Greenwood and Fernandes it now seems that Bailey would have to work hard to earn his place. Despite this, Manchester United’s top target is still Jadon Sancho as they prioritise a right-sided attacker to complete their frontline. A public desire to spend no more than £50m on a single player in the upcoming window is likely to jeopardise this deal though and may lead the Club to pursue alternative targets in their price range, such as Bailey.
With Leverkusen seemingly ready to cash in on their young winger, reported asking prices vary from £20-£40m. Our calculations value the player at just £6.88m although this fee should be considered alongside the international battle to secure the players services in early 2019.
Bailey was born in Jamaica but was also eligible to play for Germany and England and rejected a senior international call-up by Jamaica in 2017 due to the ‘poor quality’ of Jamaican football. This initiated a tug of war between his eligible nations for the player, with Gareth Southgate openly monitoring and considering the opportunity to bring the winger into the England set-up.
Despite this, Bailey did eventually elect to play for Jamaica although he has only made six international appearances to date due to his delay in selecting a national side. Had he elected to play for Germany or England, his valuation would have likely been much higher.
At just 22, Bailey still has huge capacity to improve which would also lead to an increased valuation. Overall, a fee in the region of £20m would appear to have minimal risk, should the player continue to develop although Leverkusen will likely hold out for a fee much closer to the £40m mark.