Leon Bailey has the world at his feet, the twenty-year-old star of Bayer Leverkusen is lighting up the Bundesliga but soon could have a massive decision to make.
Bailey was born in Kingston Jamaica he qualifies to play for England via his grandparents and while the youngster has yet to make up his mind on what country to represent the question on these shores is would a show of allegiance to the Three Lions improve England’s outlook going forward.
Wearing the number nine for Leverkusen this season Bailey has mostly featured on the wing behind a more central striking option. In the Bundesliga he has made twenty appearances with five of those starting from the bench. His impressive form has seen him land nine goals and five assists and in recent weeks he has been the stand out performer in the team.
Looking at his goals this season he has scored a mix from cutting in from either side of the pitch but also appearing in the centre forward role. Baileys attributes are plentiful but in particular watching him this season you can see his left foot is incredibly strong, he runs directly at defenders and has the pace to cause anyone problems.
The question at hand would Bailey improve England’s chances in this year’s World Cup and beyond? If we assume that Gareth Southgate is going to go with a singular central striking option of Harry Kane, then the positons up for grabs are the two flanks either side of Kane and a slightly deeper number ten.
In pole position currently for the those wide roles are Rashford, Sterling and Lingard. In the League this season Bailey is averaging a goal every 158 minutes, beating both Rashford at 332 minutes and Lingard at 182. Sterling’s form this season has been outstanding and he is currently chipping in with a goal every 128 minutes.
At twenty Bailey could potentially have four world cup campaigns with England where he is still in his prime. There is no doubt that there is competition for places in the wide areas but based on his current form this season Bailey should be very much part of the discussion.
The challenge for Southgate would be integrating him into the England set up in time for Russia this year. There is a sense that a nation where players play together at club level and international can boost morale and results on the pitch. Examples of this can be seen with vintage Barcelona and Spain and more recently with Bayern and Germany. There is the potential for an outfield ten for England to comprise of players exclusively from Spurs, Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs.
Rashford – Ali – Sterling
Henderson – Lallana
Rose – Dier – Stones – Walker
Bringing an outsider into this very close knit group with less than five months till the World Cup finals could be a risk but Southgate will be aware of Baileys potential and he would be remiss for not having a look at him prior to getting on the plane to Russia. The question though currently still lies with Bailey as to who he represents but if he keeps up his recent form he may feel he can bring success to the Three Lions this summer.