Aston Villa’s 4-0 win over Brentford last weekend emphasised that Steven Gerrard was never able to get the best out of Leon Bailey, so new manager Unai Emery must help the Jamaica international realise his potential at Villa Park.
Bailey joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2021 in a deal worth £25m but struggled with injuries and consistency in his first season with the club, making just 18 appearances in the Premier League.
Of those top-flight appearances, just seven were starts, as he contributed just one goal and two assists, averaging a very disappointing 6.40 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
He has already beaten his goal tally from last season after notching two goals and two assists in 11 Premier League appearances this season, with Sunday’s game against Brentford arguably the best of his Villa career, as he grabbed a goal and an assist against the Bees.
This will hopefully set the precedent for Emery to start the exciting winger on a regular basis during his time at Villa Park, as he is still only 25 and has a lot of potential to fulfil.
During his time at Leverkusen, former manager Heiko Herrlich waxed lyrical about Bailey’s form in 2018, suggesting that he “can do anything” after a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Hoffenheim.
Bailey has the most assists in Villa’s side so far this season, while only Danny Ings has scored more, and no player has averaged more dribbles per game, which emphasises how dangerous he can be going forward.
After just two goals and one assist in 23 appearances under Gerrard, who was guilty of underusing him and setting him up in a tactic that didn’t suit the Jamaican, Villa fans will be hoping that, after such an explosive performance vs Brentford, Bailey can go on to become a key player during Emery’s tenure at Villa Park.
Not getting the best out of talented players such as Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and Philippe Coutinho proved to be Gerrard’s downfall at Villa, so Emery will be hoping to rectify that when he takes charge of his first game against Manchester United next weekend.