England will consider including Leon Bailey in their squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to a report.
The Mirror on Sunday claims that Gareth Southgate could call Bailey up if the Bayer Leverkusen winger switches allegiance from Jamaica.
However, the Football Association could look to capitalise on his eligibility to play for England, with two of his grand-parents holding British passports.
The 22-year-old is also eligible to play for Belgium and Malta, but has played with Jamaica up until U23 level.
According to a report from German outlet Kicker, the Bundesliga side are extremely reluctant to part with Bailey.
The report suggests that Bayer value Bailey the same as Ousmane Dembele, who left Borussia Dortmund for Barcelona last summer for £97m.
A Jamaican blog writer has poured water over the bonfire on England fans excited by the prospect of the Bayer Leverkusen sensation representing them at the 2018 World Cup, after claiming that reports of the Jamaican wonderkid being eligible for the Three Lions are wide of the mark.
Writing on Jamaican football blog site ’The Reggae Boyz’, exasperated user Athlone claimed that similar attempts had been made to lure young Jamaican stars to represent other countries in the past, but strict FIFA regulations had made the moves impossible. Explaining why Bailey would be ineligible for England, despite having two grandparents with British passports, Athlone wrote:
“Bailey could only qualify for England by virtue of having an English-born parent or and English-born grandparent. Great grandparents do not count.
“Great-great-great-great grandparents also do not count. If one of your FOUR grandparents or TWO parents is not English born, you WILL NOT QUALIFY FOR ENGLAND BY ANCESTRY. Again, FIFA rules are very clear here.”
“Leon Bailey does not have an English born parent or grandparent. He is a Jamaican through and through with nothing but Jamaican roots (though he doesn’t appear to like that very much, judging from his dialogue with the media, and probably wishes otherwise). He will not qualify for England by ancestry.” Another player to have benefitted from playing for England despite his Jamaican roots is one of Bailey’s closest friends, Raheem Sterling; who is enjoying his fittest season yet as a professional.
The post continues by explaining that Bailey would also fail to play for England if he moved to the Premier League, as he would only qualify for Three Lions selection if he had played in England for five years before his 18th birthday. Athlone goes on to state that Bailey would also be ineligible for Germany, Belgium and Malta – who were also believed to be monitoring the situation.
It is unclear whether the post is 100% factually correct, but the reference to FIFA laws certainly suggests that Bailey may well only be eligible for his home nation. The former Genk ace is one of the most exciting young talents in European football, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all believed to be eyeing up a summer swoop for the rapid winger.