Sun | Jul 12, 2020

‘Leon will win his spot back’

Published:Saturday | May 30, 2020 | 12:26 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey in action during a German Bundesliga match against hosts Freiburg yesterday. Bayer Leverkusen won 1-0.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey in action during a German Bundesliga match against hosts Freiburg yesterday. Bayer Leverkusen won 1-0.

While national and Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey’s return to the German Bundesliga has been currently limited to off-the-bench appearances, his agent and father, Craig Butler, believes that it’s only a matter of time before he reclaims his place as a regular starter.

Since the Bundesliga’s resumption on May 18, Bailey has made three appearances for Leverkusen, all from the bench, including Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat to Wolfsburg.

Overall, his appearances have been limited this season. He missed five games early in the campaign because of injury and five more due to a red card suspension. Butler says those setbacks have not helped his cause but has every confidence in the 22-year-old Bailey to win back his spot.

“Leon’s red card situation didn’t help him, plus he had the injuries. There is a saying, you snooze, you lose. And you have to earn your spot again. [But] Leon is a warrior,” Butler told The Gleaner. “He is not afraid of earning back his spot, and he will get back his spot, and he will perform when the opportunity comes.”

Bailey started his first Bundesliga game in two months yesterday, playing 84 minutes and providing an assist in Leverkusen’s 1-0 win over Freiburg to move them temporarily into third place with 56 points.

His last start was on March 1, when he scored in the 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig.

Butler has applauded the league’s return although he recognises that the revised schedule is difficult for teams that may be playing multiple games with little time for recovery. He says that Bailey has to adjust to the rotation but has no doubt about his son’s ability.

“It’s taxing on the players, but it has to be done. They are playing three games a week sometimes. They have to do a rotation, and some players are not used to the rotation, especially Leon,” he said. “Leon does better as a starter than coming off the bench, but he is a Phoenix, and he has a certain level of fire in him.”

Bailey has been attracting attention from major European clubs, with Manchester City being the latest rumoured to have an interest in him. His current deal expires in 2023, and Butler says that they will be looking at all options for him to advance to the next level, with England or Spain to be the likely destinations.

“We are looking for opportunities because he needs to move to the next level. He needs a good challenge, and I think that the next level would be England or Spain, and that is a good challenge for him,” Butler said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com