Man United Opinion: This summer might be the last chance for the Red Devils to cut their losses on Eric Bailly
According to the Daily Mail, Serie A heavyweights AC Milan are interested in signing Ivorian international defender Eric Bailly from Man United, with reports claiming that new Rossoneri manager Marco Giampaolo is in the market for an experienced centre-back to partner Alessio Romagnoli next season.
Milan were initially interested in signing Dejan Lovren from Liverpool but they have now turned their attention to Bailly after baulking at the Reds £18 million asking price for the Croatian international. (h/t Daily Mail)
Bailly, who is currently in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford, is viewed as a much cheaper alternative by Milan, not only in terms of the transfer fee involved but also with regard to wages, given that Lovren earns around £4.5 million-a-year at Anfield.
United are probably aware of the fact that they would need to cut their losses on the 25-year-old central defender this summer or risk losing him for absolutely nothing in a year’s time. Bailly struggled for form and fitness and made only 12 appearances for the Red Devils in the Premier League last season, as neither Jose Mourinho nor Solskjaer could extract the best out of him.
Mourinho was the man responsible for bringing Bailly to Old Trafford, though, as the Red Devils splashed out a staggering £34 million to secure his services from La Liga outfit Villarreal back in 2016.
The Ivorian centre-back became one of the first signings of Mourinho’s reign at Man United but he has hardly enhanced his reputation over the past three seasons, with his impetuous and erratic defending coupled with his patchy injury record making him a glaring liability for the Red Devils.
Meanwhile, Man United are once again making the headlines in the tabloids this summer with their pursuit of a new centre-back, with Leicester City star Harry Maguire understood to be a priority for Solskjaer.
It is quite apparent that the Red Devils would need to eclipse the £75 million that Liverpool paid to Southampton for Virgil van Dijk if they are to bring Maguire to Old Trafford, although negotiations between the two clubs are yet to reach a positive end.
However, United would eventually need to get a few defenders off their books to free up space for a new signing like Maguire, or whoever be it for that matter.
The Red Devils currently have the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo as options in central defence and they can hardly afford to have a fifth centre-back competing for two places at the back next season.
Now, United need to pick out the most sacrificable player out of the whole group of underachievers, and Bailly certainly looks like a good option, given his lacklustre performances, contract situation and patchy injury record.
The Ivorian has made a total of 74 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils but, in all honesty, he hasn’t done an awful lot to justify the big money that United had paid to bring him to the club three years ago.
Bailly,25, is still very young for a centre-back and a move to the Serie A with AC Milan might help him rediscover his mojo. He has failed to deliver the goods in the Premier League but the Ivorian continues to be a quick and powerful centre-back with loads of potential.
Having spent large quarters of the previous campaign on the periphery of the first team, Bailly is likely to find life at Old Trafford even more difficult next term should the Red Devils bring in another top-quality centre-back.
It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that he doesn’t have a future at United and the most sensible approach for the club would be to cash in on the player and reinvest that money to bring in another defender.
United have already made a strong statement of intent with deals for burgeoning young talents like Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the fans have every reason to anticipate a few more arrivals before the deadline.
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All in all, Man United should be happy to move Bailly on and cut their losses on a player who has never really established himself as a popular figure amongst the club faithful.