Manchester United have long been in pursuit of Genk winger Leon Bailey, but the teenager has been snapped up by Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen on deadline day.
The January 2017 transfer window has been mostly quiet, and deadline day has been unfolding in a similar fashion. However Bayer have pulled off a surprise coup by signing highly rated Jamaican winger Leon Bailey.
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) January 31, 2017
It is believed that the German outfit will pay Genk a fee of €15 million, as Bailey signs a five year deal that will keep him at Bayer till 2022. The 19-year-old was a long time target for Manchester United, and was even linked with the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea recently.
However, Bailey had earlier stated that he would not move to Old Trafford if he wasn’t given regular playing time. It looks like playing minutes has been a decisive factor in his move to Bayer as well, with the German club not boasting of too many high profile stars.
The teenager now has the chance to shine for a club in one of Europe’s top five leagues, although Champions League football looks to be a difficult prospect, with Bayer languishing in ninth place in the Bundesliga table.
The failure to sign Bailey may not be the kind of thing that Jose Mourinho will lose sleep over. Manchester United already have a number of young players who could develop into world class footballers.
Youngsters like Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Anthony Martial are making waves in the first team. The likes of Adnan Januzaj and Andreas Pereira are also promising young talents, although they have been exiled out on loan to prove their worth.
The addition of Leon Bailey would have been a good acquisition for United, but given the winger’s prolific form for Genk, it would have been a shame if the club bought him only to put him on the bench.
This is undoubtedly what would have happened, with Jose Mourinho enjoying a wealth of options in the wing positions. In the end, it looks like Bailey has made the right move, and should United reignite their interest, they will have to cough up a huge fee.