Bayern Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey admits he is ready for a new challenge and wants to play at the “highest level” as he addressed questions about his future.
Aston Villa have emerged as the frontrunners to clinch a deal for the winger having already submitted an opening offer of £25m that was reportedly rejected.
Birmingham Live understands that Villa are eager to find a breakthrough with the players’ stepfather and advisor, Craig Butler, admitting talks are still ongoing with Leverkusen.
In an interview that has emerged with ESPN, Bailey was quizzed about his future and conceded he is ready to move on.
“One hundred per cent, I’m totally ready for the next step,” he said.
“I’ve been working hard to be able to reach where I am today. I feel like I’m at an age and point in my life where I feel like I’m ready for the next step. Hopefully we can make that happen soon.”
“For me, just playing at the top. The highest level. I feel like I need a new challenge so anywhere where it’s a good opportunity for me to really showcase myself and work hard.”
SkyBet have slashed odds on Bailey moving to Villa Park with Dean Smith’s side now 1/2 to seal another impressive transfer on the back of Emi Buendia’s arrival from Norwich.
But responding to Bailey’s comments, Villa fans are concerned that he is targeting a move to a Champions League side.
Villa Jake on Twitter said: “As much as I’d love it, this doesn’t sound like he’s coming to Villa.”
And AVFC Ben added: “This makes it sound like he wants to play UCL football.”
HarryUTV also agreed, saying: “I’d love him but the more he says the more I think he’s going to a team competing in European football.”
And Villa Fran admitted: “I’d say a move to Liverpool or one of the bigger clubs. Doesn’t sound like us.”
Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers are among the clubs reported to be among his admirers while Manchester United have been linked in the past.
“There are different interested parties from the Premier League,” said Butler, who is Bailey’s advisor and stepfather.
“We are checking the options.”
It is believed that Leverkusen want north of £30million for Bailey, who joined from Belgian side Genk four years ago.
On what would be required to strike a deal, Butler added: “Leon feels at home in Leverkusen. There will only be a change if everyone is satisfied.”
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