Who is Leon Bailey? The 'Bundesliga Bolt' wanted by Chelsea ... Arsenal and Man. United

The Bayer Leverkusen winger is a man who, much like a fellow Jamaican sprint king, has taken giant strides in a promising career over recent years.    In the modern era, an ever-increasing emphasis is being placed on finding footballers who fit the ‘athlete’ mould.

While there will always be a place for the Lionel Messi-esque diminutive playmaker, pace and power are now considered to be more appealing attributes to scouting networks and coaching teams around the world.

If you can find somebody who ticks those boxes while also boasting plenty of natural ability, then you are on to a winner.

One man who is considered to epitomise the 21st century performer is Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, with the Jamaican speed king – aptly nicknamed ‘the Bundesliga Bolt’ – generating plenty of excitement at just 20 years of age.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica on August 9, 1997, Bailey first arrived on European shores in 2011 when his adoptive father Craig Butler sought to find clubs for his son Kyle and for Leon. 

With no opportunities to be found in the Netherlands, Austria or Germany, the travelling party ended up in Belgium at KRC Genk, where a trial was offered in 2012.

With Bailey having impressed, he was tied to a draft agreement at 15 years of age – but this deal broke Belgian laws regarding the registration of minors and following an investigation, a return to the Caribbean had to be made.

Refusing to concede defeat, though, the family headed back to Europe several times, with Dutch giants Ajax verbally agreeing a contract in October 2013. Ajax manager Frank de Boer said at the time: “We tested him in different areas. In speed and agility he was already better than some guys of the first team. He’s so fast it’s not normal. His speed in combination with his technique is very rare. Exceptional. He has no weak points.”

Ultimately, Bailey ended up signing for Slovakian side AS Trencin, before moving back to Belgium at top-flight outfit Genk in 2015.

Two impressive seasons resulted in 16 goals in 77 appearances, a Belgian Young Player of the Year award and a first taste of continental football in the Europa League, with those efforts enough to secure him a €20 million switch to Bayer Leverkusen in the 2017 January transfer window.

Despite having made just 27 appearances for Leverkusen, Bailey’s ability in the present and undoubted potential for the future has ensured that he continues to register on the transfer radar of leading clubs across Europe.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea were all keen when the exit door was opened at Genk, but missed out as the decision was made to take small steps up the footballing ladder rather than one giant leap.

Bailey appears ready to make that jump, though, and it seems only a matter of time before a high-profile switch is made.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern Munich are also said to be closely monitoring a top talent turning out for a domestic rival, but they may be left disappointed as England remains the ultimate goal for an exciting prospect.

Bailey, who has posted a picture of himself in a Chelsea shirt on his social media accounts in the past, told Bild recently: “Fundamentally, my dream has always been, and still is, to play in England. If I continue to work hard, I am sure that it will work out.”

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