English football club Manchester United signed 22-year-old Ivorian central-defender Eric Bailly from Spanish club Villarreal for £30 million on a four-year contract. That’s £25 million more than what Villareal paid for him 16 months ago. He is Jose Mourinho’s first signing for the club.
Bailly joined Villarreal in January 2015 from Barcelona-based club RCD Espanyol for a €5.7 million transfer fee. Since then, the Ivorian has played 46 matches for Villarreal in one-and-a-half seasons. Last year, Bailly won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast and played all six matches in the tournament. He made fifteen international appearances.
Manchester United’s manager José Mourinho praised the centre-back saying, “Eric is a young central defender with great natural talent. He has progressed well to date and has the potential to become one of the best around.”
After signing the contract, Bailly said, “It is a dream come true to be joining Manchester United. To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do […] I am looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to starting this new chapter of my life.”
He has an option to extend his contract for two more years in the deal.
Although the pros for Eric Bailly are impressive, the cons when combined with the English Premier League will be interesting to watch. Bailly was shown 12 cards last season and his passing game at the moment would appear to be sub-standard for a Mourinho team. His decision making at critical is also questioned marked. That said Eric Bailly is young and under the guidance of Mourinho could be the star many are predicting him to be.
Also interesting, United’s hierarchy seem confident Mourinho will improve the team’s performance in the new season, but will we get to see United play the exciting football their fans have been craving when his first signing is defender Eric Bailly? Perhaps the aging, but still exciting, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will add the spark.
Eric Bailly Fact File
Born 12 April 1994 (Bingerville, Ivory Coast)
Espanyol (2011 – 2015) – 21 appearances for the B team, and 5 for the A
Villareal (2015 – 2016) – 46 appearances
Intenational debut 11 January 2015 – 15 appearances for Ivory Coast