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Meet Eric Bailly

Re-building a team like Manchester United Is not an easy task and Mourinho is looking at a total revamp of both the attack and defence. With the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovich, the attack can now become solid, to Jose’s liking. Also, with the signing of youngster Eric Bailly is also a good addition to a lacklustre defence.

Bailly is quick, versatile and strong, and thus it can be said that he possesses all the qualities to be the defensive pillar Jose Mourinho will require.
However, an area that could be a possible concern is that Bailly was just €5.7m when he moved to Villareal. It is estimated that Manchester United have paid approximately €40m for him. Fans and critics alike argue that this could perhaps be a higher price than expected for the 22-year-old Ivorian defender. Bailly filled the shoes for Gabriel Paulista at Villareal, but it is quite obvious that he is far more suited to face the demanding nature of the Premier League than Gabriel.

Bailly was part of a defence that maintained 17 clean sheets in the La Liga last season and also got to 4th place right behind La Liga dominators – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Mourinho always keeps a keen eye on scoring fresh La Liga talent and with Bailly’s convincing plays, it is no surprise that he chose him. Villarreal were the only team to shut out Atletico twice over the campaign with Bailly at the forefront of both their 1-0 win at home and a 0-0 away game.

To further illustrate the point, Bailly’s big moment came against Real Madrid in the match widely seen as that which ended Rafa Benitez’s short-lived reign as Real Madrid boss.
Again Bailly was brilliant and showed his versatility as he was deployed at right back to mark Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale out the game despite suffering from a dislocated shoulder for much of the second-half as Villarreal ran out 1-0 winners.

Most impressively of all, though, for a young defender Bailly has demonstrated a willingness and capacity to learn quickly from his mistakes. He seems to be eager to start on with the Red Devils as a video of his training surfaced online that went viral among the United fans.

Even in the early stages of his career, after just a handful of league appearances, Bailly was already regarded as an exciting prospect for the future. The defender was named in the squad for the 2015 African Nations Cup as an uncapped player, before making his international debut in a friendly against Nigeria in January 2015. Touted as Kolo Toure’s successor, he started all six games in the tournament as they went on to be crowned champions of Africa for only the second time in their history. He now has 14 caps for Ivory Coast in total.

Undoubtedly, Bailly has many of the potential qualities that new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has often favoured in defenders. The versatile player is 6-foot-1, strong and assertive – which will be useful in the Premier League – and this season he helped the Spanish club qualify for the Champions League, as they finished fourth, while also reaching the Europa League semifinals.

His discipline has also improved. Initially, his tally of yellow cards were seven in just nine games to start the season. Yet, he hasn’t been booked in his last 13 games stretching back to February after Marcelino had a word with the youngster in a public display.

Despite having a rather slow start to his career, Bailly is finally tasting success and how. He broke into the first team at the age of 19, after a tough 2-year struggle. Yet within four months of making his La Liga debut, he had secured a move to Villarreal and helped his country to the African Cup of Nations.

An ever bigger leap to the Theatre of Dreams awaits. The skills he has shown against the world’s best in La Liga suggests Bailly could be a fine first addition to Mourinho’s plans to restore United to their former glories.

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