It’a not very often that Manchester United spend 31.3 million pounds on a defender who nobody has really heard about, but if Skysports‘ reports are to be believed, that’s exactly what we will do this summer. Eric Bailly, the 22 year old centre back is all set to become Mourinho’s first defensive acquisition, and given how his last two i.e. Raphael Varane at Real Madrid and Kurt Zouma at Chelsea clicked, one hopes the same can happen at Old Trafford. So let’s take a look at the young star, and see what we can expect out of him.
Bailly signed with Espanyol as a 17-year-old in 2011, but had to wait for more than a year to make his reserves debut due to work permit issues. He made his professional debut as a 20-year-old when he was subbed on during a 2-0 league victory over Real Sociedad. He would play five times for the side between his October debut and the following January.
Just two months after his full Espanyol debut Bailly was transferred to Villarreal, and has been building his reputation as one of Europe’s best young defenders since. He made ten league outings in that campaign, and 25 in the 2015/2016 season. Bailly has also played 15 times for the Ivory Coast, making his debut against Nigeria last January and helping his side to win the Africa Cup of Nations.
Bailly has a lot of talent already; he is physically imposing, has good vision and deceptive speed. His game reading skills are impeccable and he serves long balls to his forwards, and has created 7 chances in the Spanish League this season. However, his passing is not really Manchester United level good: he registered a 77% pass accuracy in La Liga during 2015/16, including 74 unsuccessful long balls out of 114 attempted( Stats from Squawka). His defensive stats, however are on a level of their own — he has mastered the art of tackling, especially slide tackles, for which he has won more than 50% of duels and made more than 50 interceptions for his side.
Other than his passing, Bailly has also got to work on his over turbulent nature. He has acquired 10 yellow cards and 1 red card in just 20 matches, having played the full 90 minutes for only 14 times. It’s hard to believe, but Bailly was sent off on his UEFA Europa League debut against Sevilla FC on 19th March 2015. He needs to keep his aggression within the limit.
Given his meagre age, Eric has it in him to master his art and turn out to be a real gem for us. He is likely to feature in the first team directly in the next campaign, and one hopes it’s the start of à great chapter for him and for us.
Transfer feasibility: 8/10