Football News

Leon Bailey: Who wouldn’t want to join Arsenal or Chelsea?

By CJ Smith

Published: 16:00, 22 March 2024

Aston Villa forward Leon Bailey has revealed his desire to one day join one of England’s supposed ‘big six’, even name-dropping Arsenal and Chelsea. 

The Jamaica international has been a huge hit since arriving at Villa Park from Bayer Leverkusen for around £30m, hitting 18 goals and 17 assists in 94 appearances across all competitions. This season, in particular, Bailey has found his best form, with eight goals and assists in the Premier League alone helping Villa sit fourth in the table with nine games to go.

Playing Champions League football with Villa next season is a tantalising prospect, while Unai Emery’s men also still harbour hopes of lifting the Europa Conference League.

However, Bailey’s ambitions don’t stop there. The 26-year-old has now revealed his ‘dream’ of playing for one of England’s elite clubs, specifically naming title-chasing Arsenal and their London rivals Chelsea — the latter perhaps bizarrely given Villa currently sit seven places and 17 points above them in the Premier League table.

“You have big teams in England, they call themselves the big six,” Bailey told the Let’s Be Honest podcast. “The Arsenal’s and the Chelsea’s.

“It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League and I am right now. Who wouldn’t want to go to a massive team? Especially coming out of Jamaica, do you know how big that is for the country? Especially being who I am as well.

“It would shine more light and that has been my focus whenever overseas. It is to use my platform to be able to shine light on the country and the young talents. It’s difficult for us Jamaicans to even dream about making it to Europe.

“I don’t know how to answer that question but I’d just have to see in the moment. I’ve really been enjoying my football and I’m really focused on Aston Villa, having one of the best seasons of my career.

“You never know in football but I’m comfortable and happy where I’m at. I just focus on one thing at a time.”

Is Leon Bailey the perfect ‘big six’ impact sub?

Bailey’s form this season is even more impressive given the limited minutes and starts he’s enjoyed so far. The Jamaican has been in the starting XI for just 16 of his 27 Premier League appearances to this point, logging 1,496 minutes compared to 2,586, 2,422 and 1,576 for Ollie Watkins, Douglas Luiz and Moussa Diaby, respectively.

It means that among Villa players with more than 219 minutes played, Bailey is second only to Watkins (0.56) for goals per 90 minutes with 0.48, while his 0.48 assists per 90 is not just a team-high but also figures among the very best in the Premier League this season. All that, with Bailey still able to notch two goals and two assists in seven Europa Conference League appearances, two of which have come from the bench.

In total, six of Bailey’s 16 direct goal involvements in the Premier League this season have come from the bench.

This ability to impact games across limited minutes, combined with being comfortable operating on either flank, means Bailey might well be an attractive prospect for any of England’s elite looking to add depth, quality and impact to their forward line.