In the wake of persistent Eden Hazard to Real Madrid rumours Chelsea have been linked to Arsenal and Roma target, Leon Bailey.
At 20-years-old, Leon Bailey is certainly one for the future and could replacement for Hazard at Stamford Bridge. Bailey might not be of Hazards quality, but the £40M rumoured price tag might hint at Maurizio Sarri‘s Chelsea believing there is potential there.
In the new world of “Austerity Chelsea”, the price tag might come as a surprise to some. However, Abramovic will likely be trying to get on Sarri’s good side early on.
Bailey scored nine in the Bundesliga last season, with three more in the domestic cup bringing his total to 12. He supplemented this with six assists in the league as well. This amounts to a goal contribution (goal or assist) every 124 minutes.
Compare this with Eden Hazard who scored 17 and assisted six across all competitions and you might see some similarities. His 23 goal contributions come in at a goal or an assist every 128 minutes.
While both players like to dribble, particularly cutting inside with the ball Hazard far outshines Bailey in this regard. Bailey completed just 52% of his attempted take-ons this season compared to Hazard completing 82% of his.
This could seem like an unfair comparison as Hazard is one of the worlds elite while Bailey is just a prospect. However, Chelsea needs a good season. With most of their rivals strengthening well in this transfer window, Chelsea cannot afford any ‘flops’.
Bailey took the Bundesliga by surprise this season, with good performances coming as a winger and wingback, on both sides of the pitch. His athletic ability is almost unrivalled, however, at times, he can be predictable. Using his pace to try and beat others in almost every situation won’t sustain him forever as players become used to his style. This season he completed just 2.44 successful take-ons per 90 minutes.
Similar to Robben, when deployed on the right hand Bailey will try to cut inside at almost every opportunity to use his favoured left foot. However, Bailey is excellent at crossing. On the left-hand side of the pitch, he could use his pace on the outside to develop crossing chances. Bailey had a passing accuracy of 74%, which for a young player is respectable. Despite this, Bailey did create 2.25 chances per 90 minutes. Comparing this to his assists per 90 (0.28), the quality of his chances are evident.
Will he fit into Sarri’s style? At Napoli, Sarri favoured a 4-3-3 with attacking full-backs. Bailey could slot in nicely into the right side of the attack, cutting inside with devastating effect. However, should Hazard leave then Bailey will likely find himself on the left, with Marcos Alonso behind him at left back.
Alonso is already an attacking full-back and Sarri could find Alonso and Bailey both trying to fill the same role when attacking – sitting wide waiting for the ball.
Sarri is known to force his players into his style though, so it remains to be seen whether Bailey could fit into the system.