With 8 goals in 25 appearances, exciting Jamaican winger Leon Bailey has drawn attention with his performances for Belgian side Genk. With the search for young talent who can be developed into superstars getting more and more intense day by day, the presence of United’s chief scout Jim Lawlor at Genk’s Europa Cup fixture against Sassuolo was no surprise for onlookers.
The Jamaican has attracted interest from French club PSG and Ajax in the past but they never materialised into something concrete.
Bailey was in the limelight for all the wrong reasons in 2013 while at KRC Genk as he was not permitted legally to stay at Belgium. His agent had brought him to sign the contract flouting certain rules in the process. Amazingly when the labour ministry conducted a raid, he and his agent were no-where to be found.
PSG and Ajax got a rude shock when their bids were declined at the first instance with the latter labelling a 10 million bid and the former placing in a relatively lower bid. Chelsea were rebuffed in the past when he rejected their attempt to purchase and loan him out to Pini Zahavi owned Royal Excel Mouscron.
Bailey’s talent was first spotted in the early teens when playing for the Phoenix All Stars Football Academy with his father taking up the onus to find him a club in Europe which could develop his talent. His father Craig Butler was a former professional footballer himself. When he was training with Ajax in 2013, their coach Frank De Boer mentioned –
“We tested him in different areas. In speed and agility he was already better than some guys of the first team. He’s so fast it’s not normal. His speed in combination with his technique is very rare. Exceptional. He has no weak points.”
He made a move to Genk a few months later from AS Trencin in Slovakia which was his new destination after Ajax .His confidence and mentality was also praised after he demanded the ball from a senior team-mate in his first training session at Genk.
Leon Bailey’s Pace, Technical skills and ability to perform at a variety of positions makes him an irresistable package. With the player enjoying comparisons to Manchester City winger Kevin De Bruyne based on his playing style and attitude he is someone Manchester United will not regret spending the 20 million sum demanded by Genk.
“I’ve always dreamt of the Premier League,” Bailey told HLN Sport. “But if, let’s say, Man United can’t guarantee me minutes, I will stay at Genk.” Signing Bailey will be a message of intent to other clubs in Europe that the English giants can still attract the best talent in Europe.
Share your opinions about Leon Bailey, in the comments below!
Photo by Andrea Sartorati