Bailey in action for Jamaica
“Great going forward but notoriously vulnerable at the back,” that’s how Matt Ford, a freelance journalist specialising in German football described new Villa man, Leon Bailey.
Ironically, that exact sentence could have been used to describe Dean Smith’s men throughout the majority of last season. And to an extent, some of this one, too.
At times, Villa were arguably the most exciting team in the league to watch compete. Fast, attacking football with goals pretty much a guarantee - and Bailey’s arrival certainly won’t do anything to hurt that.
His statistics almost mirror those of another certain high-profile former Bundesliga man, Jadon Sancho and yet Villa managed to snatch Bailey’s signature for well under half of what Manchester United played for Sancho.
So why is this? What exactly is the Jamaican lacking, if anything, to make his price-tag so respectable in today’s market?
We got a full background check from German football journalist, Ford, on Bailey’s time at Bayer Leverkusen.
“Bailey burst onto the scene at Leverkusen a few years ago and initially made a massive impact but his form then tailed off a bit, for several reasons,” he explained.
“He’s penetrative and direct, good one on one and has a good shot on him.
“He’s a very similar player to Jadon Sancho, albeit not quite the same calibre. He became a bit predictable at times and defenders started to know what was coming.
“There were also issues at home with a dispute with the Jamiacan FA re an international call-up for his brother - plus the constant managerial merry-go-round at Leverkusen which never really helps.”
But, before you get too worried, Villa are in a much healthier position than Leverkusen were.
Bailey’s disputes with the Jamaican FA are seemingly all in the past and the aforementioned attacking talent of Dean Smith’s side mean he cannot afford to be complacent as someone will be ready and willing to take his spot.
That, and Ford explained that the 24-year-old was back to the elite levels he was showing on his initial arrival to Germany during the 2020/21 campaign.
“He was pretty much back to his best last season, even though Leverkusen didn’t quite make the Champions League,” he added.
“Bailey’s inconsistency tends to mirror Leverkusen’s inconsistency. Whether he can make the step up to the Premier League with Aston Villa - who knows?
“But given the lack of interest from sides higher up the Bundesliga food chain (RB, Dortmund & Bayern) - perhaps this will prove to be the best move for him.”