Aston Villa could strike gold with a summer swoop for Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey amid continued speculation over Jack Grealish.
What’s the story?
Reports in recent days have suggested that Dean Smith’s side are eyeing up a swoop for the Jamaican winger this summer as they look to bolster their squad and offset the potential departure of Grealish to Manchester City.
Football Insider claimed that Villa have agreed personal terms with Bailey, with the 23-year-old set for a significant pay rise if a deal goes through.
Speaking before Villa officially confirmed that they had reached an agreement with Leverkusen over his transfer, former Villans defender Alan Hutton threw his backing behind a move for Bailey this summer.
He said: “I’m so excited to see this one. I’ve heard a lot about him over the past two or three seasons. He’s obviously still very young but he’s electric, he gets people off their seats. That’s what you want in a player.
“But what’s more impressive, 15 goals and 11 assists from wide areas in the German league. That’s unbelievable. It’s the kind of consistency you want from your wingers.
“That’s no disrespect to who is there at the moment because in flashes they could be brilliant, but in certain games they might be a lot quieter. I think this would be an unbelievable signing that the fans and the club can be excited about. It shows the direction that they are moving in.”
While Grealish’s loss would be a massive one given his huge influence on the team, Villa will feel that their recruitment in the summer transfer window can hold them in good stead and ensure that they don’t massively miss their talisman if he were to leave.
Having already brought in Emi Buendia to add to their attacking midfield ranks, the arrival of Bailey would give Villa a more explosive and exciting wide option who can go straight into Smith’s starting XI.
Former Ajax youth coach Ronald de Boer once said of Bailey: “He’s so fast it’s not normal. His speed, combined with his technique, is very rare. Exceptional. He has no weak points.”
Leverkusen’s sporting director Rudi Voller added: “He’s got extraordinary pace, he’s very skilful with the ball, and he will give further impetus to our attacking department.”
That speed and directness could give Buendia the perfect player to try and find with his intricate passing, as well as offering Villa an added threat in behind to supplement Ollie Watkins’ movement off the ball.