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Tracked by Chelsea since age 14, Leon Bailey happy to keep Blues, Europe waiting

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The next big thing is no hurry to leave Bayer Leverkusen

Sportfreunde Siegen v Bayer Leverkusen - Pre Season Friendly Match Photo by Juergen Schwarz/Getty Images

Leon Bailey has more or less picked up where he left off last season as one of the brightest prospects in the Bundesliga, continuing to feature heavily for Bayer Leverkusen and just as, if not more heavily, on all the top European clubs’ wishlists.

But the 21-year-old is in no hurry to leave just yet, as he reveals in a new interview with FourFourTwo Magazine. He’s been at Leverkusen for only a couple years, arriving in January 2017, and he looks set to stay until at least the summer.

“Manchester United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool – a lot of clubs were interested [in January 2017]. But the most important thing as a pro is taking things a step at a time and not rushing to the top too quickly. Because once you get there, where do you go next?

“I believe the right timing is important, and it was the right moment to be at Bayer Leverkusen. They are a tremendous club with so much history. A lot of good players have come from there; they can get into the Champions League and are always doing well. So why not them? It was the perfect move for me and I’m happy I made it.

“My focus isn’t really on moving anywhere yet. I’m just about what’s happening right now rather than what could happen in the future. I’m still learning.”

-Leon Bailey: source: FourFourTwo

In fact, Bayer sporting director Jonas Boldt has recently confirmed that Bailey indeed isn’t going anywhere in January.

“The conversation was good. We all know that Leon will eventually leave. But we have made it clear that a winter transfer is out of the question. He also knows that he has our backing.”

-Jonas Boldt; source: Bild via Metro

Chelsea’s interest 18 months ago wasn’t our first pass at Bailey, or even second. Bailey first popped up on our radar in the summer of 2015, when he was just 17 going on 18 and trying to sort his work permit situation at AS Trencin in Slovakia (for whom he ended up never playing) with an eye towards going to play in either the Netherlands or Belgium (he’d end up at Genk). The situation seemed more shady than promising, already full of various shenanigans and sleazy-sounding agents. Chelsea were apparently trying to add him to the Loan Army, something that according to Bailey, we had been trying to engineer for some time before then (a la, say, Bertrand Traoré).

“Chelsea have been interested in me since I was maybe 14 or 15, but as a young player you want to start on a normal level and not just go there because of the name of the club.

“You want to develop in the right environment; around the right minds and mentality. Genk was right for me at that moment – I fitted right into the youth system perfectly. That’s where I wanted to start, so I went for it.”

-Leon Bailey: source: FourFourTwo

Probably the correct choice by young Leon at the time, and he’s continued to exhibit smart decision-making ever since. So whenever he does decide to leave Bayer, it’ll probably be the right time. And then the bidding war shall begin.