Aston Villa have confirmed Leon Bailey has signed a new contract with the club.

The 26-year-old Reggae Boyz attacker has been in sensational form this season and is playing the best football of his career to date. He has made 32 appearances in all competitions so far this term, recording 19 goal contributions across those games.

His 13 goal involvements in the Premier League is already more than what he managed in his first two seasons at the club combined.

Bailey joined Villa for £30 million in the summer of 2021 from Bayer Leverkusen. He was one of three players targeted by Villa to replace the void left behind by Jack Grealish, who joined Manchester City for £100 million.

Injuries marred his first campaign with Villa as he only started seven times and scored on just one occasion.

Last season, Bailey improved following the arrival of Unai Emery, and played his role in helping the club qualify for European football with a seventh-placed finish.

Reggae Boyz forward Leon Bailey is set to sign a new contract with English Premier League (EPL) club Aston Villa.

Discussions have been planned over a new deal since December, with Bailey keen to commit his long-term future to the Villains.

Bailey’s existing contract, due to expire in June 2025, was signed when he joined Villa from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen for a fee in the region of £30million (now $37.7m) in the summer of 2021.

The 26-year-old struggled with injuries during his first year at Villa Park, making only seven Premier League starts and a further 11 appearances off the bench in the 2021-22 season.

He played more regularly last season under Steven Gerrard and then Unai Emery, registering four goals and four assists in 33 league games.

This season, though, has been his most productive at Villa, with his 10 goals in all competitions second only to Ollie Watkins’ 16 at the West Midlands club.

Bailey previously played for Belgian side Genk before joining Leverkusen in 2017. He scored 39 goals in 156 games for the German club before leaving for Villa.

Bailey’s importance to Villa has grown over the winter months, with head coach Unai Emery having been keen to develop the Jamaican’s consistency away from home.

Bailey has become Villa’s most threatening forward, scoring or assisting at an average of every 78 minutes this season.

“His potential is amazing,” says Emery. “Progressively, he’s getting better and he’s humbled to listen and improve. His qualities and skill… sometimes when we play at home, we watch him and think, ‘Wow, what a player’.”

Bailey has largely operated from the right wing this season, scoring 10 times and registering nine assists across 31 appearances. In Villa’s 4-2-2-2 system, the Jamaican’s pace has provided a key outlet on transition, stretching play alongside Watkins.

Internationally, Bailey has played 30 times for Jamaica, having made his senior debut in 2019. He has scored five goals for the Reggae Boyz.

 

 

 

Manchester United announced they had agreed a club-record fee to sign Spain midfielder Juan Mata from Chelsea on this day in 2014.

The World Cup and European Championship winner, 25, arrived by helicopter at United’s training complex the following day for his medical ahead of completing a £37.1million transfer.

That smashed the £30.75m fee United paid Tottenham for striker Dimitar Berbatov in 2008, with Mata signing a deal until 2018.

The former Valencia player, who had won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup in his three seasons with Chelsea and was the club’s player of the year in 2012 and 2013, made his United debut on January 28 in a 2-0 Premier League win over Cardiff at Old Trafford.

He joined a Red Devils side managed by David Moyes but the former Everton boss was sacked in April.

It was a mixed time for Mata in Manchester, with the Spaniard winning the FA Cup – scoring in their 2016 final win over Crystal Palace – League Cup and Europa League but unable to help United reclaim the Premier League title.

Mata made 285 appearances, scoring 51 goals, for the club before leaving when his contract expired in 2022 to join Galatasaray.

Former Chelsea forward Tommy Baldwin has died aged 78 following a long illness, the club have announced.

Baldwin scored 92 goals in 239 appearances for the Blues and lifted the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Born in Gateshead, Baldwin joined Chelsea from London rivals Arsenal in September 1966 and scored his first goal in October away to Manchester City.

He went on to score 17 in his debut season for the club and played in the 1967 FA Cup final, which they lost to Tottenham.

Baldwin’s ability to absorb tackles contributed to his nickname ‘The Sponge’ and he continued his goal-scoring prowess with 16 goals in his following season for the Blues.

Despite spending four months on the sidelines in the 1968/69 season, Baldwin scored twice in a 4-0 away win against Manchester United, who had recently been crowned European champions.

The forward helped Chelsea win the FA Cup in 1970 as they beat Leeds 2-1 in a replay and he played a key role as they claimed the European Cup Winners’ Cup with a 2-1 replay win over Real Madrid in Greece the following year.

Baldwin narrowly missed out on lifting another trophy as Chelsea were beaten by Stoke in the 1972 League Cup final and eventually left the club to play in the North American Soccer League in the mid-1970s.

Jordan Henderson apologised for any hurt felt by the LBGT community over his move to Saudi Arabia outfit Al-Ettifaq at his Ajax welcome press conference in Amsterdam.

Henderson moved to Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool on a three-year contract last summer, and his decision to go to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex relationships are illegal, caused controversy in the UK as he had previously been a high-profile supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

“If any people from that community feel let down or hurt I apologise,” said Henderson.

“If anyone was offended or feel as though I upset them, that’s on me, that was my decision and I apologise for that. It was never my intention.

“I just want to look forward now and concentrate on being the best player I can for Ajax. My beliefs have never changed and never will. Again I can only apologise if people feel let down.”

Henderson, 33, has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Eredivisie club after failing to settle at Saudi side Al-Ettifaq, who he joined six months ago and he described his move to Ajax as the “perfect opportunity” after cutting short his spell in Saudi Arabai.

“(Ajax) is one of the biggest clubs in the world, the biggest club in Holland and I felt as though it’s a great opportunity for me personally to come to a huge club, to try and help this club go forward and be as successful as possible.”

Henderson denied that there was a financial element to his decision to move to a Dutch club rather than return to England, and said he wanted to help Ajax – struggling by their standards in fifth place – return to the top.

“Don’t believe what you read in the press,” he said. “It had nothing to do with anything but football. I felt it was the perfect opportunity to come to such a huge club and showcase what I’ve tried to do my whole life – to dedicate myself to football.

“The welcome here has been incredible and I’m overwhelmed to be given the opportunity at a great football club and to repay the faith shown in me.

“Over the next two-and-a-half years I will give everything to get the club back on track and to be as successful as possible.”

Jordan Henderson has described his move to Ajax as the “perfect opportunity” after cutting short his spell in Saudi Arabia.

Henderson, 33, has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Eredivisie club after failing to settle at Saudi side Al-Ettifaq, who he joined six months ago.

“(Ajax) is one of the biggest clubs in the world, the biggest club in Holland and I felt as though it’s a great opportunity for me personally to come to a huge club, to try and help this club go forward and be as successful as possible.”

Jordan Henderson has completed his move from Al-Ettifaq to Ajax, the Dutch club have confirmed.

It comes after the Saudi Pro League club agreed to terminate the England midfielder’s contract.

Henderson, 33, joined Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool last summer but has decided to cut his stay in the Middle East short. He has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Amsterdam outfit.

A statement from the Dutch club read: “Ajax has reached an agreement with Jordan Henderson on his transfer to Amsterdam.

“The free agent, former Sunderland and Liverpool player, signed a contract at Ajax lasting two-and-a-half years, until June 30, 2026.”

Sean Dyche says Everton remain focused on their appeal against the points deduction they were given in November after it emerged they could be hit with another sanction.

The Premier League on Monday said Everton and Nottingham Forest had confirmed that they had breached profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) for the assessment period up to and including the 2022-23 season, with separate commissions set to determine sanctions.

Everton are already appealing against a 10-point penalty imposed two months ago relating to a PSR breach in the period ending in 2021-22.

Asked at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay against Crystal Palace how concerned he was about the prospect of another points deduction, Toffees boss Dyche said: “Because of the first situation, I think we’re all wondering.

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. The appeal is the first thing, our focus remains on the appeal from the last part of it, and see where that takes us. I think that’s all we can do.”

What the papers say

Newcastle have dropped out of the fight for Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips due to his loan fee being too expensive, the Telegraph reports. The England international’s proposed move to the Magpies reportedly does not make sense financially. Sky Sports says Juventus, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Everton are all interested in the 28-year-old.

Chelsea are going to demand the £35million release clause for any club who wants to sign their 21-year-old Dutch defender Ian Maatsen, who recently joined Borussia Dortmund on loan, the Telegraph says.

Jesse Lingard could be on the move to the United States with MLS team the Portland Timbers interested in the 31-year-old free agent’s services, the Daily Mail says.

Celtic have got Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher on their radar, the Daily Mail says, but there is also interest from Wolves, Brighton and Brentford for the 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jhon Duran: Chelsea are reportedly interested in a short loan deal for the 20-year-old Aston Villa forward who has scored two goals in 14 Premier League games this season, Metro reports.

Bruno Guimaraes: Talksport says Paris St Germain are interested in the Newcastle midfielder, who has a £100million release clause.

Gary Cahill insisted he was never going to turn down the chance to join Chelsea after finally completing his £7million move from Bolton on this day in 2012.

Cahill put the finishing touches to a reported five-and-a-half-year contract, having spent more than a fortnight wrangling over personal terms that threatened to scupper the deal.

But the England defender suggested he had no intention of walking away from the protracted negotiations between his representatives and Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay.

“Chelsea is a massive club, it is a club that looks to win trophies season in, season out and it is a big opportunity for me to be a part of that,” Cahill told the Blues’ official website at the time.

“Opportunities like this, you can’t turn down.”

Cahill reportedly settled on wages of £80,000-per-week – £20,000 less than the player was said to have demanded during initial talks.

He then travelled to London to undergo a medical and watched his new club’s 1-0 Premier League win over Sunderland.

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas said: “He has good technical abilities, which is important in the way we want to play and to implement our philosophy.

“Competition will be tight for him, but we brought him in to become better as a team.”

There were no shortage of admirers for Cahill, with Arsenal seeing a bid rejected and Tottenham also going close to landing him.

But Chelsea were the only serious January transfer window bidders, with Bolton opting to cash in on a player in the final six months of his contract.

Cahill spent seven-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge, making almost 300 appearances in all competitions and winning the Premier League twice, the Champions League, two FA Cups, two Europa League titles and the EFL Cup.

Jamaican international Dujuan 'Whisper' Richards is gradually working his way up the ranks at English Premier League (EPL) outfit Chelsea, as he was recently promoted to first-team training at Stamford Bridge.

According to a Chelsea Chronicle report, Richards, who was among a number of exciting young talent recruited by Chelsea from all over the world, has progressed rapidly since his arrival at the West London club late last year, and expectations for his future with Mauricio Pochettino's side are high, especially as he continues to improve in his craft.

Richards, a product of Craig Butler's Phoenix Academy renowned for producing Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey, burst into prominence last year with his performances in the ISSA schoolboy football competitions. The exciting youngster’s highlight reels from the tournament went viral on social media and attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs. Among them, Newcastle United and Chelsea.

Richards spent a trial at Newcastle, but in the end, it was Chelsea who won the race for his signature, as they wrapped up a pre-contract in June.

By then, Richards had already become a fully-fledged senior Jamaican international. He made his senior Reggae Boyz debut in March against Trinidad and Tobago, when he became the youngest player to represent Jamaica in the last 20 years.

Richards was also included in Jamaica’s squad for the Concacaf Gold Cup and got on the scoresheet in a 4-1 win over the Soca Warriors. That goal etched his name in the annals of the country's football history as the youngest Jamaican to score in the competition and the second youngest player overall, behind Canada’s Alphonso Davies.

Having waited patiently until his 18th birthday on November 10th to join Chelsea, the towering striker is now making the most of the opportunity, as he has reportedly impressed coaches with his performances since transitioning to regular first-team training.

Premier League and EFL chiefs are set to be questioned by a select committee next week about what progress has been made towards a new agreement over top-flight television revenue.

The PA news agency understands Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, and EFL chair Rick Parry are due to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) committee on Tuesday.

The leagues are involved in discussions, which also include the Football Association, on a so-called ‘New Deal For Football’.

The talks cover a new, enhanced funding package for the EFL and its clubs but also financial controls, calendar changes and work permits.

What the papers say

Chelsea will have to pay more than £100million if they want to sign 19-year-old Irish striker Evan Ferguson as Brighton resist letting go of the teenager, the Evening Standard says. Ferguson has signed a deal with Brighton until 2029 after a promising start to his career, including scoring six goals for the club this season.

Everton have slapped a £60million fee on 22-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana, and i sport reports that Arsenal, who are interested in the Belgian, will have to sell a player to afford him.

Fulham, Everton and clubs overseas are said to be interested in Brentford’s 26-year-old midfielder Frank Onyeka, the Guardian reports.

The Times says West Ham are interested in Mexican striker Santiago Gimenez, who Feyenoord value at £30million. The 22-year-old has scored 18 goals in 16 Eredivisie games this season.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jack Clarke: Football London reports West Ham and Crystal Palace are interested in Sunderland’s 23-year-old forward who is valued at around £20million.

Victor Osimhen: Senior figures at Real Madrid believe the club should sign the 25-year-old Napoli striker instead of Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, according to Football Transfers.

What the papers say

Conor Gallagher is reportedly at the head of Tottenham’s transfer wishlist as Ange Postecoglou searches for a number eight. According to The Independent, Spurs are aiming to complete the transfer in January, with Chelsea bosses believed to be willing to make a deal for the right price.

Staying with Tottenham, The Independent says Bayern Munich are in talks to sign Spurs defender Eric Dier. It comes after the north London outfit beat Bayern in the race for the signature of centre-back Radu Dragusin.

The Telegraph reports Newcastle have had an approach for forward Dominic Solanke turned down by Bournemouth. Bosses at the Cherries are said to be determined not to release the 26-year-old this month.

Brentford and Crystal Palace are interested in Sunderland forward Jack Clarke, according to the Evening Standard.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Erling Haaland: AS reports Real Madrid are assessing a potential approach for the Manchester City striker amid concerns over whether Kylian Mbappe will leave Paris St Germain to join them.

Hannibal Mejbri: The Evening Standard says the Manchester United midfielder is on the brink of a move to Sevilla after choosing the LaLiga side over Everton, with the loan fee reportedly stretching to seven figures.

What the papers say

Tottenham will have to battle Bayern Munich to sign their top defensive target Radu Dragusin from Romania after the German giants tabled a late offer, the Telegraph reports. The 21-year-old defender plays for Genoa in the Serie A and has scored two goals and added an assist in 19 games in the competition this year.

The Mirror says Jadon Sancho, who was confirmed to be in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund, will return to Manchester United after a loan deal with the German club as they can not afford the transfer fee. The 23-year-old has only played three games this year for Erik ten Hag’s side.

Newcastle United will staunchly reject any offer from Paris St Germain for their Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, the i reports.

Tottenham will join Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in the race for 21-year-old Middlesborough midfielder Hayden Hackney, the Evening Standard reports.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jordan Henderson: The former Liverpool captain, now at Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League, has drawn interest from Ajax, but will have to stave off competition from British and German clubs, ESPN says.

Vangelis Pavlidis: The Evening Standard reports the Greek striker, 25, is now on the Fulham’s radar. Pavlidis, who is at AZ Alkmaar, is also being monitored by Chelsea, AC Milan and Barcelona.

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