Leon Bailey: Things to know about exciting Jamaican winger

Ross Jackson
Leon Bailey could be heading for the Premier League
Leon Bailey could be heading for the Premier League / Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey is no stranger to speculation surrounding his future.

The winger has been courted by a whole host of Premier League heavyweights at one time or another with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all previously credited with an interest in securing his signature.

But now, finally the speculation has turned into some actual concrete news. That's right Bailey is finally signing for a Premier League club - and that Premier League club is Aston Villa.

Presumably using the money from the impending sale of Jack Grealish to Man City, Villa have acted quickly to replace their mercurial captain.

But have they replaced him with a quality footballer? Well, here's everything you need to know about Bailey...

1. He's had an odd career path so far

Leon Bailey has had to fight his way to the top
Leon Bailey has had to fight his way to the top / YORICK JANSENS/Getty Images

Bailey's route to top level football has been anything but ordinary.

The winger started out at Jamaica-based footballing school Phoenix All-Star Academy before him and his step-father headed to Europe in search of a club.

Having tried their luck in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, Bailey impressed during a trial at KRC Genk, though the Belgian side were unable to offer him a contract due to him being only 15.

A pre-contract was signed - something not permitted in Belgium - and after the authorities got wind of said agreement Bailey was forced to move back to Jamaica.

He eventually returned to Europe where he signed for Austrian side Liefering before moving to Slovakian outfit AS Trencin. Then in 2015 his career went full circle and he ended up back at Genk - certainly a story for his grandkids.

2. Young Belgian Footballer of the Year

Leon Bailey during his time at Genk
Leon Bailey during his time at Genk / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

You might not think being named the best young player in the Belgian league is a particularly great accolade, but when you hear the list of previous winners you'll realise it's a big deal.

Bailey was awarded the Young Belgian Footballer of the Year in 2015/16 during his time with Genk, joining a roll of honour including Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel and Vincent Kompany.

Aston Villa striker Wesley won the award two years after Bailey, and if the Villans do secure the Jamaican's signature they'll hope he has more luck in the Premier League than the Brazilian.

3. Issues with his national team

While Bailey can regularly be found speaking in glowing terms about Jamaica in interviews, his relationship with the national side hasn't always been smooth sailing.

The Leverkusen winger has openly admitted he's had problems with the Jamaican FA in the past, with his step-father also adamant he would never play for his country.

Having accepted a call-up to the senior side in 2018, Bailey went back on his decision after the Jamaican FA refused to bow to his demand of calling his brother (who's also a footballer) up alongside him - bit weird.

Eventually he stopped with his diva-like demands and he finally made his international debut in 2019.

4. There were thoughts he could play for England

Leon Bailey is now a Jamaica international
Leon Bailey is now a Jamaica international / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Given the problems he initially incurred with Jamaica, it's probably no surprise to hear Bailey was exploring his options.

There were thoughts that the winger could be eligible to play for England earlier in his career, with fans taking to social media to beg Bailey to switch his allegiance to the Three Lions.

The rumours came about because two of Bailey's grandparents have British passports, but as they weren't born in England he didn't qualify to play for the Three Lions.

Shame, we're sure Gareth Southgate would have been happy for him to bring his brother along with him...

5. He's rejected Manchester United in the past - allegedly

Leon Bailey is said to have rejected United in favour of a move to Leverkusen
Leon Bailey is said to have rejected United in favour of a move to Leverkusen / Pool/Getty Images

We've already mentioned that Bailey has previously attracted interest from a few of Europe's big hitters, but Manchester United's interest reportedly saw them even go as far as to table a bid.

Prior to joining Bayer Leverkusen in 2017, the Red Devils attempted to lure the youngster to the bright lights of the Premier League, and the only thing that stopped the move was Bailey turned them down in favour of a move to the Bundesliga!

Well, it looks to have turned out pretty well for him, but that's still some going.

6. Style of play

Leon Bailey has lightning speed
Leon Bailey has lightning speed / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Naturally you're probably wondering what sort of player we could be seeing arrive in the Premier League this summer, so here you go...

Bailey's pace is easily one of his best attributes and despite being predominantly left-footed he's also capable of cutting onto his right,

Given he can play with both feet he's comfortable on either side of a front three or on the wing of midfield four, but the former suits his style of play best as he's proven to have a decent eye for goal.

Bailey's unbelievable free-kick against Bayern Munich a few seasons ago showcased his ability from dead-ball situations, and any team lucky enough to sign him is getting themselves an absolute gem.