Jamaica’s very own Leon Bailey is recognized as one of the most talented young football players in the world. Rising to prominence with Koninklijk Racing Club Genk in Belgium a few years ago, where he announced his presence in magnificent form by scoring a thirty-five yard effort in a UEFA Europa League matchup against Rapid Wien, Bailey has not looked back since, eventually securing a move to Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen, where he has been one of their star players since his debut in 2017. Having seen his career hit a slight roadblock due to injuries and losing his place in the starting XI, it is therefore permissible to question whether a move away from Germany would help Bailey to fulfill his potential and become one of the greatest Jamaican exports in history.
Known as a pacey, direct and clever attacker, Bailey introduced himself to the Leverkusen fanbase in fine fashion, scoring twelve goals and notching six assists in his first eighteen months at the club. The 22-year-old Jamaican international has recently shown glimpses of why many consider him to be one of the brightest prospects in Europe, scoring three goals in his last five Bundesliga games, including two beautifully taken efforts against German champions Bayern Munich. What is clear to see is that Bailey has talent. His step-father and agent Craig Butler has made sure the world knows of this, constantly singing praises and promoting his son’s accolades.
During the recent transfer window, Bailey’s name was linked with multiple teams in the English Premier League, including the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. Butler admitted that there was reasonable interest for Bailey’s signature by a number of clubs around Europe such as Bayern Munich and AS Roma but specifically hinted at a move to England. Bailey concurred, stating in a recent interview that there was “concrete interest” from a specific team in the English top flight.
“What I can say is that my full focus is on developing myself as a young player, and that’s what I’ll focus on. If a club wants me, my management and Bayer 04 will take care of it.” He added.
Bailey’s time at Bayer Leverkusen has been well documented but if he is to act out on his 2017 Golden Boy nomination and successfully matriculate into a player that is revered and highly sought after then he must focus on leaving Leverkusen for a bigger challenge. In order to fulfil his potential, it would be ideal for the Jamaican to move to a bigger club, perhaps in the Premier League, where he can compete at the highest level and be introduced to coaches and tactics that will improve his game. There is evidently no doubt that he has talent and what is important to note is that he is still young.
If we look at the likes of Son Heung-Min and Leroy Sane, who both left the Bundesliga at a young age for the Premier League, we see a clear blueprint that Bailey could follow.
Both Son and Sane went to clubs whose managers were famous for developing and nurturing young talent, hence the result of both players becoming integral assets for their respective teams. If Bailey were to follow suit and make himself available to a manager that is willing to bet on him and give him opportunities to learn and grow, we could very well see the young boy from Cassava Piece become a global phenomenon.