In Foucs: Signing Bailey would send important message for Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has set his sights on beating Chelsea and Manchester United to Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, an exclusive Daily Star report has revealed.

What’s the story?

With Alexis Sanchez expected to leave Arsenal in the summer, or potentially even earlier if Arsenal receive a good enough bid for him in January, Arsene Wenger is already scouring the market for a credible replacement.

The Chile international has been Arsenal’s most important player since signing from Barcelona in 2014 but with just a couple of FA Cups to his name in England, the attacker has understandably grown frustrated with Arsenal’s failure to compete for bigger honours with more intent.

His exit would leave a large whole in Arsenal’s attack and replacing the 29-year-old will be difficult, if not impossible, but Chelsea and Man United target Bailey is attracting the attention of Wenger and the Frenchman is hoping he can convince the 20-year-old to move to North London over his Premier League rivals.

Can Bailey replace Sanchez?

It’s too early to say as he’s still very young, but the early signs are promising.

The Jamaica U23 international joined Bayer Leverkusen last summer following some impressive form for Belgian outfit Genk, and a record of eight goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances so far this season has understandably caught the attention of England’s elite.

Replacing Sanchez is never going to be easy and when he arrived at Arsenal he already had a reputation as being one of the best players in Europe, while Bailey would arrive without any reputation whatsoever.

That would undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on the youngster to succeed. Being signed as a direct replacement to a player who has scored 78 goals 162 first team appearances for Arsenal is going to come with high expectations and severely high pressure to be an instant success.

Whether Bailey can thrive under that pressure remains to be seen, but Arsenal would perhaps be better off recruiting a more experienced player as Sanchez’s direct and immediate replacement should he leave.

Is he worth the money?

It is believed Leverkusen value Bailey at £35million, which will not put off many elite clubs across Europe should they decide to make a move for the youngster. He is valued at just £9.9m by transfermarkt.com

Bailey has impressed in Germany this season and is building a reputation for being extremely fast, a trait Arsenal could really with adding to their attack.

The state of today’s transfer market suggests spending £35m on a promising 20-year-old is not as ridiculous as it would have been a few years ago, and if Bailey can hit the ground running in the Premier League then you have to say that sum is not a lot of money at all.

It remains a gamble, though. With just a few years of first team experience under his belt, such pressure and expectation at a big club like Arsenal could hinder Bailey’s development and would therefore render his transfer fee as expensive or even over-priced.

But on the flip side, Bailey could thrive alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette and everyone will be hailing him as a bargain.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is that if Arsenal manage to beat the likes of Chelsea and Man United to Bailey’s signature it would certainly send a message to the rest of the Premier League that the Gunners can still compete for the most in-demand players, despite not particularly being a real threat in the Premier League title race for some time now.

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