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Young Jamaican soccer ace eyes move to England

AMBITIONS: Leon Bailey

LEON BAILEY, the Kingston-born winger plying his trade with German top tier team Bayer Leverkusen, has set his heart on playing in England. And the 20-year-old, yet to make a full international appearance for the Reggae Boyz, has been a wanted man by a clutch of Premier League sides for some time.

Arsenal, Chelsea. Manchester City and Manchester United having been heavily linked with Bailey ever since he scooped Young Player of the Year award in the Belgium League for the 2015-16 campaign.

Bailey, who kicked off his career in the youth team in Jamaica with Phoenix All Stars Academy, revealed to German national newspaper Bild: "Of course I have a dream club, but I will not tell.

"Basically England was and still is my dream, if I keep working hard then I'm sure it will work someday. The change to Bayer was just the right step for my development because I'm happy here. And we have every chance to get into the Champions League - Europe is our big goal."

Bailey joined Bayer Leverkusen from Belgium's top-flight outfit Genk in January 2017, having made 56 appearances and bagged eight goals.

But in Germany his flying performances are winning accolades with half-a-doxen strikes from 22 games and his electrifying pace causing the right sort of attention. English Premier League champions Chelsea have been making noises to push through a £22m deal that has already been turned down. Although that appears to be a January sales bargain considering he was snapped up by Bayer Leverkusen for an estimated €20m.

Bailey's astute father and manager, Craig Butler, will be orchestrating his career and aiming to guide the player to become one of the world's best. Butler, the founder of the Kingston-based Phoenix All Stars Academy, last year had a run-in with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) about Bailey playing on the international arena for his native nation.

Butler stated: "With Leverkusen advocating that Leon doesn't play for Jamaica I must consider out options, and decisions we make have far-reaching implications.
"I'll watch a little more now from a more guarded position and see if the JFF has the courage and willingness to welcome the future of football."

Bailey did pull on a gold jersey for Jamaica's U23 team almost three years ago, scoring directly from a free-kick in the 4-0 triumph at Montego Bay Sports Complex as a substitute against the Cayman Islands.

But was overlooked ever since, which Butler attributes to Jamaica's international team manager Roy Simpson. The feud has not ended and it was widely reported last year that Bailey would refuse Jamaica call ups until the standards of Jamaican football improved.

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