How the direct ball-carrier and versatile forward will fit into Villa’s team – The Athletic


The Premier League has long been in Leon Bailey’s sight. For years he’s dreamed of shining in the English top flight alongside a collective group of stars he feels are the best in the world.

Throughout his colourful journey that started in Jamaica and has since taken in Austria, Belgium, Slovakia and Germany, the winger always pictured one day playing in the same division as his pal, Raheem Sterling.

Chelsea took a serious interest in Bailey at the age of 15 but he signed professional terms with Genk.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton have all been linked with a move since but it’s Aston Villa who have won the race for his signature and handed him the big break he has long desired after agreeing a deal with Bayer Leverkusen.

Perhaps he was always destined to play in England. Villa might not have been top of his list in the past but the club are in the middle of a huge transformation and growing quicker than some of those around them.

Aside from the expected loss of Jack Grealish — a superstar who is ready to be a part of an elite team, rather than one potentially in the making — the rebuild is genuinely exciting and a move for pacy Bailey with his quick feet and eye for goal from wide positions only adds to it.

This pursuit has the potential to be game-changing. Landing the 23-year-old winger on the back of his most productive season in the Bundesliga — he chipped in with 14 goals and ten assists including Europa League games — would go a long way to solidifying Villa’s intentions. They’re bold and ambitious these days and have the financial clout to compete with the big boys.

There’s a ruthless approach to strengthening the starting XI, too.