Eric Bailly: Why the Ivorian could prove key to Man United’s title hopes

When Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan sign for a club, it is not surprising to see someone like Eric Bailly go under the radar.

And yet, after the game against Leicester and Bournemouth, Eric Bailly has emerged as a huge attraction for fans.

It would probably be erroneous to call Bailly a small signing considering Ed Woodward splashed £30 million to get Villarreal’s young central defender.

At the time, the deal did surprise plenty. Bailly after all, had made just 39 La Liga starts – including four for Espanyol – before United came calling.

Mourinho and co. knew Bailly, who was bought by Villarreal to replace Gabriel (who had joined Arsenal), was the key man in a Villarreal defence that kept 17 clean sheets in La Liga last season to secure the fourth place.


No fear

The 22-year-old seemingly isn’t intimidated, by the price tag or by being part of one of the best clubs in the world.

Against Leicester in the Community Shield tie and Bournemouth in the Premier League’s opening game, the Ivorian has shown his confidence determination.

He has been voted the man-of-the-match in both these games.

It is also often difficult for players who come from different leagues to adapt to the game of a new one, especially when its the Premier League where the stakes are a little higher with the glamour and media attention there always is.

José Mourinho has expressed how impressed he is with the player’s adaptation.

“When you buy someone like him there is always a question mark on the way he adapts,” the manager said. “Playing in Spain is very different to playing in England, playing to finish fourth or fifth is different to trying to win, but he is showing a big personality and it’s incredible.”


Exciting prospect

The former Villarreal centre-back has already shown signs for United supporters to get really enthusiastic about the player’s future.

Eric Bailly is composed on the ball and fearless while making tackles and being proactive in defence.

He has shown he can move the ball forward sometimes and whether that is something Mourinho works on as the coach remains to be seen but having a ball-playing centre-back is good for any team.

Against Bournemouth, he played the ball out of defence with authority.

Eric Bailly is fast, which ensures that he also tracks back whenever he does move forward with the ball, ensuring his primary duty of defending isn’t compromised.

At the end, what is most exciting thing about the player is his age. He is only 22 and has his best years ahead of him.


A possible key figure

United have a very exciting, albeit rough diamond within their ranks and Mourinho is the right man to make sure the player’s potential is realised.

He is currently partnering Daley Blind at the back but with Chris Smalling set to return soon, it is likely that Blind will be the player who is dropped as Bailly has looked absolutely undroppable at the moment.

José Mourinho has explicitly stated that his side will be fighting for the title.

Defence will play a big part in the same and from the performances Bailly has put on, he will be crucial in his club’s endeavour.


Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1

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