Reputable journalist Pete O’Rourke has delivered his verdict on what Leon Bailey could offer to Aston Villa next season.
The lowdown: Bailey’s frustrating first year at Villa
Signed from Bayer Leverkusen for £25m last summer (BBC), the winger struggled to make the desired impact at Villa Park due to persistent injury issues which saw the flying Jamaican miss nine games with a thigh problem.
The 24-year-old arrived in the Midlands having directly contributed to 65 goals in 156 appearances for Leverkusen and made a dream start to life as a Villan with an assist on his debut against Watford in the Premier League.
However, despite only managing 754 minutes of action in the top flight last term, one well-informed onlooker has suggested that Steven Gerrard could essentially view Bailey as a fresh addition to the ranks ahead of the 2022/23 campaign…
The latest: ‘Like a new signing’
He said: “Leon Bailey did arrive with a lot of expectation on his shoulders after that big-money move from Bayer Leverkusen.
“Fitness issues prevented Villa fans from seeing the best of him, but I’m sure he will be hungry to prove a point this season and can show he can be a top performer for Aston Villa because he’s definitely got it in him, and he could almost be like a new signing for Villa if he goes and hits the ground running.”
The verdict: Tough ask
After completing the permanent capture of Philippe Coutinho, Gerrard is blessed with options in the wide areas, with Emiliano Buendia, Bertrand Traore and youth prospect Jaden Philogene-Bidace all at the manager’s disposal.
However, there can be little doubt that, at peak form and fitness, Bailey – who was described as an ‘explosive winger’ by football talent scout Jacek Kulig – can force his way into the 42-year-old’s plans and, most importantly, stay there.
Will Bailey be a success at Aston Villa?
Sharing similar stylistic traits with the likes of Sevilla ace Lucas Ocampos, Lille sensation Timothy Weah and Everton forward Demarai Grey (FBRef) and possessing many of the requisite attacking attributes to succeed as an elite-level winger (WhoScored), Bailey could yet have a huge influence on Gerrard’s side.
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