Sunday 18 March, 2018

Leon Bailey refuses to pledge his international future to Jamaica

Jamaica international footballer Leon Bailey.

Jamaica international footballer Leon Bailey.

Two days after President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Michael Ricketts said that Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey would be called to the national team, the star player has refused to pledge his international future to his country.

Following a meeting on Tuesday with Bailey's management team,  headed by his adopted father Craig Butler, the CEO and founder of Phoenix Academy, the JFF indicated that "Leon Bailey will be called to the national team for upcoming fixture on January 30 (non-FIFA date) and if confirmed a home fixture during the March 19-25 FIFA international window."

However, the 20-year-old who has represented his country of birth once at U23 level said his international future could lie further afield.

Bailey told that “it's been like that for years, but my opinion hasn’t changed and people have to accept that.

Jamaica is a wonderful country where it’s always summer and the people are happy, but I’m only interested in club football for now.”

Bailey arrived at Leverkusen from Genk on the final day of the January 2017 transfer window for a reported €13.5 million.after two years in Belgium, but with naturalised citizenship in the country requiring five years of uninterrupted habitation, he would have to marry a Belgian to attain that passport.

Bailey has been prevented from playing for Jamaica because of issues between Butler and the JFF.

Butler has repeatedly indicated that he would not allow any players from his club to represent Jamaica if he did not have a role in the process.

Last October, Bailey was prevented from representing Jamaica against Saudia Arabia  because Butler had pointed out during a meeting with members of the JFF and head coach Theodore Whitmore, that he  wanted other players from his  club - Phoenix Academy - to be invited to the team.

The meeting ended without any progress as Whitmore pointed out that he was only interested in inviting Bailey to the team.

This season Bailey has  scored six goals, while setting up another four in 14 games for Bayer Leverkusen in establishing himself as a key player in their dynamic frontline.

That form has not gone unnoticed, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly keeping tabs on the rapid winger and sporting director Rudi Voller is well aware that if a big club does come in for him, Leverkusen may not be able to resist a significant offer