Aston Villa announced the signing of forward Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday morning in what is believed to be a £30 million deal between the two clubs.
The signing comes amid reports that the club will accept a £100 million bid from Manchester City for captain Jack Grealish. The transfer will be completed in the coming days.
Villa announced on July 31 that an agreement was reached for the transfer of Bailey, and the player put pen to paper on personal terms late on Tuesday evening in what can only be described as a bizarre press conference streamed on YouTube by Bailey’s stepfather and agent.
When Villa announced a fee was agreed for Bailey on Saturday, club supporters hoped the move was a bid to help convince Grealish to stay. It’s clear now that either was not the case, or it did not sway his decision.
On July 29, reports emerged that Manchester City formally bid for Grealish after months of speculation. We now believe that Villa had a personal agreement with Grealish, allowing him to depart the club if a nine-figure bid was received.
Grealish returned to Villa’s camp in London on Sunday and has been seen training with the team and taking photos with supporters. His inclusion threw Aston Villa Twitter into a frenzy as fans speculated on his immediate future.
But by Wednesday it was clear. Bailey was joining a Grealish-less Aston Villa just 10 days before the start of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.
Villa are getting a dangerous winger who will terrorize defenders in Bailey.
But, we kick on. And with Bailey in the squad, Villa look an exciting side even before the Grealish £100 million is spent.
In Bailey, Villa add a lightning-quick attacker who can play across the front three. He played primarily on the right at Bayer Leverkusen, and we should expect to see him there for Villa. It may seem natural to replace Grealish on the left with Bailey, but his left foot is better served in a role as a direct winger on the right.
According to pgr_analytics on Twitter, Bailey was tops at Leverkusen last season in key passes (60), shot-creating actions (98), successful dribbles (87), and players dribbled past (90). Additionally, his per-90 statistics for assists (0.3), goals (0.5), shots on target percentage (47%), and crosses (3.6) placed him firmly among the Bundesliga’s elite in 2020/21.
With these numbers in mind, it’s clear Bailey will significantly soften the blow of Grealish’s departure. Let us not harp on what could have been with both in the Villa side and continue to push forward. Bailey is a baller, and Villa will kick on well with him in the side. Grealish was to lead Villa onto Europe; now it’s up to a more-than-capable Bailey and Co.