Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey has refused to pledge his international future to Jamaica. Belgium, England or even Germany could one day stand to benefit, but the Three Lions appear to be in pole position ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Reports in England, notably The Mirror, have indicated that Gareth Southgate and his coaching team are aware that Bailey qualifies for England by virtue of two grandparents having English passports.
That tallies with information bundesliga.com received from a source close to the player that Bailey has “English ancestry; Malta by merit options,” though the chances of the attacker electing to turn out for the latter, ranked 158th in the world, would seem infinitesimally small, eligible or not.
Watch: Bailey has set the Bundesliga alight this season!
The Kingston-born 20-year-old has represented his country of birth once at U23 level - scoring a free-kick in his hitherto only international appearance, against the Cayman Islands in March 2015.
Sources close to Bailey also indicated to The Mirror that it "would be hard for him to turn down" the chance of representing England, if Southgate were to make an official approach. The Leverkusen forward is also believed to be close to Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, who is an England regular, but was also born in Jamaica.
Speaking to Bild earlier this year, Bailey refused to pledge his international future to Jamaica: “It's been like that for years, but my opinion hasn’t changed and people have to accept that,” the attacker, who has nine goals and seven assists to his name this term, told Bild. “Which country I play for is still open.”
Bailey arrived at Leverkusen from Genk on the final day of the January 2017 transfer window after two years in Belgium, but with naturalised citizenship in the country requiring five years of uninterrupted habitation, Bailey would have to marry a Belgian to attain that passport. The length of residency required in Germany is normally eight years, meanwhile.
Whomever Bailey one day lines up for internationally, they are sure to be a stronger team for his presence.