Winger | Bayer Leverkusen | Jamaica
A prolific dribbler and showboating trickster, who in his short Bundesliga career has conjured up countless methods for shifting the ball from weak foot to strong peg while completely taking the defender out of the game and looking pretty darn cool in the process. At times, Bailey seems a little off balance and out of control, but as soon as he hits his stride on his preferred left it quickly becomes apparent something special will be required to stop him.
There were even calls for Gareth Southgate to include Bailey in England’s World Cup squad and although it’s since emerged that he’s not actually eligible to represent the Three Lions, despite his grandparents possessing British passports, the interest is testament to just how far the 21-year-old has come since first showing off his skills at FC Genk as a teenager.
Accordingly, even after not taking part in the World Cup for England or any other nation, Bailey was tipped as a top target for the Premier League’s elite during the summer. He remains at Bayer Leverkusen, where the Bundesliga’s own website have tipped him to become the club’s next superstar, but the likelihood of a higher calling is becoming more difficult to ignore.
2018 has been…
Surprisingly understated, considering the potential Bailey has shown previously and the hype surrounding the Jamaican-born winger. Indeed, of the nine goals and six assists scored in the Bundesliga last season, just three strikes and two setups came after the turn of the year and in fact, there were only two goal invovlements from January onwards. Disappointingly, that’s seeped into this season too - Bailey’s found the net just once in the German top flight.
But some context is needed here because, in general, Bayer really haven’t been at their best this season - tenth in the Bundesliga and tenth in the division’s scoring charts as well - as they suffer the typical struggle to balance out domestic form with progress in the Europa League. That’s seen Bailey divvied up between both competitions, which no doubt has impacted his form in the top flight.
There has been a resurgence recently, however, particularly in the Europa League where Bailey has grabbed three assists in his last two appearances.
But international football is the notch missing from Bailey’s bedpost and while it certainly isn’t for everybody, it’s also an important part of the development process - working in different teams, under different managers and towards different aims. Bailey will no doubt be a superstar for Jamaica too, so hopefully a solution to his seeming apathy towards the national team is found sooner rather than later.
Aside from making his mark in the international game, the immediate objective is rediscovering the level of output that once put Bailey on the very verge of superstardom at an incredibly young age. In part, that requires Bayer to start raising their game too in 2019.
But if Bailey is to become a Ballon d’Or contending talent in the years to come, it’s down to him to start grabbing the situation by the scruff of the neck as well. He is, after all, Bayer’s No.9 - and a frighteningly talented one at that.