Leon Bailey addresses Villa exit talk last summer, explains why he joined

Aston Villa forward Leon Bailey has addressed a number of interesting topics relating to the club in a lengthy interview.

The 25-year-old joined us in August 2021 and has since gone on to score five goals and provide four assists in 34 appearances in a Villa shirt, with three of those goals and two assists coming this season.

Having been plagued by injury woes last year which saw him limited to just 18 appearances, he has already featured on 16 occasions so far this season, and he’ll be hopeful of playing a fundamental role in Unai Emery’s plans moving forward.

READ MORE: Assessing what Emery’s strongest Villa XI would be

As per the Jamaica Gleaner in October, his agent, Craig Butler, discussed Bailey’s situation at Villa and revealed that Ajax were a possible option for him over the summer after a difficult year at Villa both due to injuries and fitting into former boss Steven Gerrard’s plans given he didn’t have the same preference as Dean Smith for wingers.

Of course, Bailey ended up staying at Villa and he has addressed that situation publicly and revealed that it was his decision to stay at the club and his focus is on achieving the objectives set when he arrived.

Bailey on Villa exit talk over summer

“You know something, I could have left Aston Villa. Even after that bad season… I could have left for a bigger club but you know what it’s me that said I wanted to stay,” he told the Let’s Be Honest podcast. “I’m going to stay a long time because I want to make a show of them that called me an idiot. I’m going to show what I’m really capable of.

“Sometimes there’s unfortunate situations but that’s what built me and built me as a person. I like challenges. This year, I’m doing my thing! Now look.

“My mindset is the same going into each season, to remain injury-free, continue working hard and, with this new coach, top coach, I only see up from there. I will continue to dominate but my main focus – the only thing I see holding me back – is injury. My main focus is working hard and making sure I stay injury-free.”

Bailey on choosing Villa

“(Moving to Villa) was my way of getting into the Premier League,” he added. “There were a lot of other clubs that wanted me but I did my homework, my research and looked at the team that would suit me best because I wanted to be in a proper environment.

“Aston Villa, top facility, a big club with a big history, fanbase… right city where it is because, as a professional, I take things one step at a time.

“Villa, when they approached me, they wanted to make steps. They spent a lot of money and they wanted to play European football and I believed in that and I still really do believe that we will play in Europe. I wouldn’t say it was a rushed move because I could have been in the Premier League a long time ago, even bigger clubs.

“So, for me, I like challenges. When you have challenges and when you achieve them, it’s some of the best feeling. Some people get things easy, I like challenges. I like people saying to me I’m not good because that’s when you’ll see a beast come out!”

Mixed thoughts on Bailey quotes

Bailey could have perhaps chosen his words more carefully when referring to ‘bigger clubs’ than Villa, as that will justifiable annoy some fans as it almost gives the impression that he sees us as a sort of stepping stone and he sees himself elsewhere in the future.

Further, while we’ve seen much more from him so far this season, there is still a long way to go in terms of consistency as we need him to produce week in and week out to become a pivotal player for us. There has certainly been improvement, but he will know that he has to showcase his quality over a long period to fully convince.

Nevertheless, there were a lot of positive things there too in terms of him seeing a long-term future at the club and wanting to play a key role in getting us back into Europe. There is also the sense that he sees us as a right fit for him at this stage of his career and if he produces on the pitch, both parties ultimately win.

Time will tell just how influential he will be under Emery moving forward, but it sounds as though he’s pleased with the managerial change and it will hopefully lead to more positive and successful moments for the club moving forward.