The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece has revealed Aston Villa have moved on from Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe, and instead turned their attentions towards Bayer Leverkusen flier Leon Bailey.
Reports in recent weeks had suggested that Smith Rowe was a real target for Dean Smith’s side as they looked to add a bit more creativity to their side, and they had a couple of bids knocked back by the Gunners.
Now, it appears that Villa have finally admitted defeat in their pursuit of the England U21 international, but are instead eyeing up another talented attacker.
Writing on Twitter, Preece said: “Leon Bailey firmly on Villa’s radar now, as per the ace @TomCollomosse. The Jamaican, 23, is bang in form; 15 goals & 11 assists for Leverkusen last season playing predominantly on the right. LB can play across a front three; fits the profile #avfc want. Villa moved on from ESR.”
While Villa fans may be disappointed that their hopes of luring Smith Rowe to the club may have ended, they will be absolutely buzzing with the news that the scouting department at Villa Park have settled on Bailey as their next option.
The Jamaica international has enjoyed some fruitful campaigns in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen, and was particularly outstanding last season – he scored an impressive 15 goals and provided another 11 assists (out of Villa’s current squad, only Ollie Watkins scored more (16), and only Jack Grealish set up more (12)).
Bailey can play on either flank, and what perhaps sets him apart compared to Smith Rowe, and in fact, anyone else Smith has at his disposal right now, is his blistering pace.
Ajax’s former youth coach, Ronald de Boer, once said of Bailey: “He’s so fast it’s not normal. His speed, combined with his technique, is very rare. Exceptional. He has no weak points.”
Given the creativity that Villa now have with the likes of Grealish and Emi Buendia (the Argentine topped the Championship charts last season for assists with 16), they could do with that extra pace to run in behind and give those two a target to hit.
Smith’s side could be absolutely devastating on the counter-attack with Bailey and Watkins making those penetrating runs into the channels, and it’s exactly why Villa fans will be excited with this latest transfer news.