Bailey completes Villa move amid continued Grealish speculation

By Sports Desk August 04, 2021

Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £30million fee.

The Premier League club announced at the end of July that an agreement was in place with Leverkusen, with the player now completing his medical and agreeing personal terms on a contract that runs through to 2025.

A Jamaica international, Bailey scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists for the Bundesliga side across 40 appearances in all competitions last term.

The 23-year-old becomes the second big-money signing for Villa ahead of the 2021-22 season, following on from the arrival of Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City. Ashley Young has also re-joined the club on a free transfer.

"Leon is a hugely exciting young striker with great pace and creativity," Villa boss Dean Smith said of Bailey, who scored 39 goals for Leverkusen after joining from Genk in January 2017.   

"He has enjoyed a successful career at Leverkusen and we are now looking forward to watching him show his skills and talents for Aston Villa in the Premier League."

It remains to be seen if Smith will have Jack Grealish as part of his first-team squad once the transfer window closes, however, as Villa’s captain has been heavily linked with a move to champions Manchester City.

Villa have a pre-season friendly against Sevilla on Saturday before opening the new season with a trip to promoted Watford on August 14.

 

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    Ralf Rangnick has been tasked with restoring the fortunes of struggling Premier League giants Manchester United.

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    TOP STORY – HAIDARA WANTED AT OLD TRAFFORD

    Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick wants to make RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara his first signing, according to The Sun.

    Rangnick has been appointed until the end of the season and talk of January incomings have already emerged.

    The German brought Haidara to Leipzig during his time at the Bundesliga club and he is believed to be interested in reuniting with the 23-year-old star.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Staying at Old Trafford and El Nacional reports United want Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, having rebuffed a proposal for Philippe Coutinho.

    - Portuguese journalist Pedro Almeida claims Jose Mourinho's job as Roma head coach is in danger following another defeat, this time 3-0 to former club Inter in Serie A on Saturday. Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure amid just three wins in nine league games. Mourinho has also been linked with Everton as pressure mounts on Rafael Benitez.

    Chelsea and Arsenal are both interested in Paris Saint-Germain forward Mauro Icardi, says Ekrem Konur. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Juventus.

    - According to The Sun, Ligue 1 giants PSG are lining up a bid for Wolves' left-back star Rayan Ait-Nouri.

    - Widespread reports claim Leipzig are seriously considering the sacking of head coach Jesse Marsch, who only replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season. Leipzig have lost three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time in their history.

  • Rangnick outlines transfer strategy as Man Utd boss warns against unrealistic expectations Rangnick outlines transfer strategy as Man Utd boss warns against unrealistic expectations

    Ralf Rangnick believes Manchester United should focus on signing younger players as the interim Red Devils manager outlined his transfer strategy.

    Rangnick will take charge of his first match when United welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford in Premier League action on Sunday.

    The 63-year-old has been appointed until the end of the season, with former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick set to move into a consultancy role until 204.

    Rangnick has earned a reputation for identifying young talent during his work with Red Bull-owned clubs Leipzig and Salzburg and as the January window approaches, he provided an insight into how he operates.

    "One does not exclude the other. The team has, with Mason [Greenwood] and Marcus [Rashford], two players who are homegrown and have come from the youth ranks," said Rangnick after United signing 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo and 28-year-old Raphael Varane ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, having also lured Jadon Sancho, 21, to Manchester.

    "It's about recruitment but also at a club like Man United, with a top academy, we should make sure that every year we have one or two players who are good enough to make it into the first team.

    "On the other hand, with signing players for transfer fees, it's a question of what you want. If you pay big money for a 30-year-old and he's still good enough to make you successful, I don't mind that.

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    "This is where I always think it always makes more sense to sign a player at 21 or 22 and if you then have to pay a big fee, at least you have the chance to develop him into a player who is worth even more."

    At Leipzig, after spells with the likes of Hoffenheim, Hannover and Schalke, Rangnick – known for his high pressing – took charge of the team in two different spells, having initially joined parent company Red Bull as director of football in 2012.

    Under Rangnick's leadership, Leipzig had gone from the regional league to Champions League qualification by 2017.

    Rangnick – who will become only the sixth German to manage in the Premier League – was promoted to the head of sport and development for Red Bull in 2019, before eventually joining Lokomotiv Moscow earlier this year.

    Rangnick has never managed outside of his native Germany, taking charge of five different teams in the German Bundesliga in his career. The last side he managed was Leipzig, winning promotion with them from 2.Bundesliga in 2015-16 before returning to the club for the 2018-19 top-flight season and leading them to third place.

    Across 294 Bundesliga matches, Rangnick has a winning percentage of 41. He first took charge in the top flight in May 1999 at Stuttgart, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich, while his last game in charge in the competition came 20 years later in May 2019 at Leipzig, a 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen.

    His best top-flight finish as a coach is second, achieved in 2004-05 with Schalke, a side he took over mid-season and led to a runners-up position and also to the final of that season's DFB-Pokal, ultimately losing 2-1 to Bayern.

    Compared to countryman and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp due to their high-octane brand of football, Rangnick addressed the comparisons.

    "Well my football is definitely not a slow waltz!," said Rangnick, whose United have already been linked with Leipzig pair Christopher Nkunku and Amadou Haidara. "I am not that far apart from Jurgen in terms of our ideas about a style of football. That’s no secret.

    "But you have to be aware of what kind of players you have and where they stand. I cannot ask things of them that they can’t deliver right now.

    "I have to take them and accept where they currently are. They are experienced and smart enough to know that. I cannot turn the players we have into the pressing monsters I want them to be within two, three or four weeks.

    "The same happened to Jurgen when he came in the middle of the season and they finished eighth or ninth. Liverpool had a lot of injuries in that time - muscle injuries - because they were not used to that kind of training. So we have to be smart."

    United are seventh in the Premier League standings and 14 points adrift of leaders and defending champions Manchester City.

    The Red Devils have conceded in 15 consecutive home games in all competitions, their second-longest ever such run, after a 21-game streak ending in March 1959.

    Rangnick added: "I am more than optimistic, but I also have to be realistic. Five weeks ago, our team lost 5-0 against Liverpool - and it could have been a lot more if we are honest.

    "Against City it was 2-0 - but it could also have been more. It was important to win the point at Chelsea but the performance? I don't know. They had 24 shots on goal and we had three.

    "So right now, to say I will challenge the top Premier League managers in the next few weeks or months, is not realistic. Right now my focus is on Crystal Palace and then on Young Boys, then Norwich, then Brighton and Hove Albion and then Brentford.

    "The games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City will be in March and April - and that’s when I will answer the question about challenging them."

  • Der Klassiker referee Zwayer explains controversial moments in Bayern's Dortmund win Der Klassiker referee Zwayer explains controversial moments in Bayern's Dortmund win

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    Dortmund succumbed to defeat at home to defending champions and leaders Bayern, with the second half seeing controversial decisions go in favour of Die Roten.

    Firstly, Marco Reus' protests were ignored when the Dortmund man was tripped in the Bayern box by Lucas Hernandez, before the visitors got their winner in similarly contentious fashion.

    Mats Hummels threw himself between two players in an attempt to reach a corner delivery, but he appeared to start stumbling and ultimately fell into the ball with his arm first.

    While replays showed Hummels was not looking at the ball, seemingly rendering it accidental, Zwayer pointed to the spot following a VAR check and Robert Lewandowski subsequently scored what proved to be the winning goal.

    Zwayer offered an insight into his decisions, telling Sky Germany: "It was contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed.

    "The situation is not black and white, I decided against the penalty kick because of my line [of sight]. It was not necessary for me because I had a clear view.

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    On the Hummels incident, Zwayer added: "The situation was a standard, corner kick. I see in the running game that it's about a touch by Hummels. In the game it was not clear whether the arm went to the ball.

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    In 2005, Zwayer was caught up in a scandal that centred around fellow referee Robert Hoyzer, who was found to have fixed 2.Bundesliga matches.

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    Dortmund head coach Marco Rose was sent off after BVB conceded a penalty to Bayern on Saturday.

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    "And there is also frustration. You can see that in the way he falls. And so, for me, it is a clear penalty. And I have seen the second situation several times. It starts with Thomas Muller's hand on Mats Hummels' shoulder. Mats tries to protect himself a bit, which is natural, which is very natural, stumbles, doesn't see the ball anymore, dives somewhere and then the ball falls on his hand. In the first situation there was no video evidence.

    "The referee even said that he had received confirmation from Cologne that his perception was correct. This statement is incredible and not very comprehensible to me. And then, in the second situation, you look at yourself accordingly just with pity and bitterness. We have to talk about it very, very much. And of course, it also makes you emotional, that's clear."

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