Who Is Eric Bailly And Was Jose Mourinho Right To Sign Him For Manchester United?

Posted: August 15, 2016 in European Football, Football, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Before joining Manchester United few people in England had heard of Eric Bailly. A 22 year old defender from the Ivory Coast, he was bought from Villarreal for a bargain €30 million. This bargain was not as impressive as the one Villarreal received when they bought him from his first club, Espanyol. They paid a mere €5.7 million and so made a profit of €24.3 million, not too shabby a deal for them!

He made his debut for the Ivory Coast national team in 2015, in a friendly against Nigeria. He then went on to represent his country at the Africa Cup of Nations where he played in all six games, culminating in winning the trophy.

Bailly has consistently put in Man-of -the -Match performances since arriving at United and this must be very pleasing for Jose Mourinho who was unsure as to whether or not a player so young would be able to handle playing for Manchester United. From what little I have seen to date he is handling it very well and looking more comfortable than some of his older and more experienced team mates.

Of the new arrivals he was certainly the least lauded as nobody knew much about him. This probably helped him to settle in as the perceived pressure would be on the bigger name players United had bought. The alternative view, of course, is that the bigger names would not feel the pressure at all and, in fact, what has actually happened is that they have all settled really well and don’t appear to have noticed any special demands or expectations on themselve

The other potential hurdle for Eric Bailly to overcome is the fact that he doesn’t speak any English. There will not a be major problem in communication at United as there are plenty of French speakers and, having played in Spain, he can also chat with the Spanish speakers, of which there are a few. He will still hope to learn English fairly quickly for his own benefit and certainly if he is to play alongside Chris Smalling who, being typically English, only speaks one language and not very well at that!

This may not happen, of course, as Jose Mourinho is looking to buy another centre half so it may be that Smalling will struggle to get back in the team which, as I don’t think he is of the required standard for United, would be a good thing.

So who is the best of the new signings so far? Admittedly, Zlatan has scored some good goals already so he is Bailly’s main contender at the moment. Henrikh Mhkitaryan has only made a couple of substitute appearances since being in England and, although he looks the real deal, it is hard to say from the fleeting glimpses we have had of him.

Paul Pogba is yet to appear for the team in his second coming but much is expected of him and he is widely thought to be the best midfield player in the world.

For me, Bailly is just ahead of Zlatan with his performances and, bearing in mind he is partnering Daley Blind, who is not a centre back, his play has been excellent.

Once Pogba is playing regularly and Mhkitaryan and Ibrahimović have fully settled in I expect them to start collecting some Man-of-the-Match awards but, until they do Eric Bailly should enjoy the limelight and enjoy the appreciation of both his team mates and the fans.

To answer the second question posed in the title, yes, Jose Mourinho was totally right to buy him!


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