Keeping the focus
His stock is sky high, and major clubs in Europe are hunting his signature, but Jamaican Bundesliga star Leon Bailey said his feet are firmly planted on the ground.
"I am not so focused on that (interest from top clubs) right now. I am just more focused on playing hard and to develop as a young individual," said Bailey, following a training session with the members of Phoenix Academy team at the Waterhouse Mini Stadium yesterday morning.
"I am focusing on playing for the team, and once I am doing well, the results will come," he said. "I am basically just being normal for as long as I can be because at some stage in my life, maybe, it won't be like this anymore," Bailey added.
The 20-year-old, who represents Bayer Leverkusen, in Germany's top league, is one of the hottest young attackers in Europe, attracting interest from big clubs such as Chelsea and Arsenal from the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga leaders Barcelona.
It has been reported that Bayer Leverkusen have ignored a €20 million offer from English champions Chelsea, with several other top clubs believed to be interested in the Jamaican.
The club have, according to German media, valuated Bailey north of £50 million with sporting director Rudi Voller warning it would take a ‘ridiculous’ offer to tempt them to negotiate for the youngster.
The Phoenix Academy prodigy has netted six goals in all competitions this season, including five in the Bundesliga, since joining Leverkusen from Belgium side Genk last summer.
Bailey, who scored the winning goal against Borussia Monchengladbach to lead Leverkusen into the quarterfinals of the German Cup on Wednesday, has also dished out four assists so far this season.
Bailey noted that he had to work very hard in training to adapt to the rigours of the Bundesliga at the start of the season.
"It was something new, and when I started, it wasn't how I expected it to be," said Bailey. "But I was very focused and worked hard because I know what I want to accomplish this season, and so far, it has been tremendous," he said. "It's different from the Belgium league, but I am understanding it (German League) the more I play."
Bailey, who is here during his league's winter break, is glad to be back working alongside former teammates and helping out in whatever way he can to develop the other players in the academy.
"I am always going to remember where I am coming from. That is something I will never forget," said Bailey. "I have a tattoo on my arm that says Phoenix is not just an academy or a football team, it's family because we all grew up together, and so we have a good understanding with each other," he said. "I think it is nice to give back always because I was also in the academy and I also learnt from the older ones."