This time last year, Leon Bailey was one of the most exciting prospects in European football. He still is, of course, but his reputation and price-tag have sky rocketed after a sublime 2017/18 season for Bayer Leverkusen.
The 20-year-old Jamaican winger has been the revelation of the Bundesliga campaign so far, netting eight goals and managing five assists while producing a number of truly electric displays for Heiko Herrlich’s side – capped by an inspired back-heel goal in a 4-1 win at Hoffenheim recently.
Everton, then, will be kicking themselves after they failed to bring Bailey to Goodison Park when they had the chance. As reported by the Daily Mail, the Toffees were keen to sign the jet-heeled Genk youngster after some exceptional performances in last season’s Europa League.
But Bailey chose Leverkusen instead, moving to the Bay Arena for a bargain fee of just £12.8 million. And it is fair to say he is worth far more these days.
Because Leverkusen’s squad manager Jonas Boldt believes Bailey could follow in the footsteps of former Borussia Dortmund phenomenon Ouseman Dembele and generate a transfer fee in excess of £100 million, as reported by ESPN.
French winger Dembele swapped the Signal Iduna Park for Barcelona in the summer for a fee that could rise to £135.5 million, as reported by the BBC. And, on reflection, Bailey is probably performing as impressively this season as Dembele was in 2016/17.
So with some of Europe’s top clubs watching him closely, and with a transfer fee potentially reaching the eight-figure mark, Everton look to have missed out on one of the best bargain signings in recent seasons.