Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United tenure at Old Trafford was marred by a number of expensive transfers that failed to pan out for the club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes to mind (due in no small part to a severe knee injury), while the Paul Pogba saga will likely reach an ugly conclusion in the near future. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are another 3 signings that failed to live up to expectations.
Another of those is central defender Eric Bailly, who has dealt with a seemingly endless stream of injuries since arriving in Manchester in the summer of 2016. The former Villarreal man suffered a knee injury this past April that ultimately cost him an appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, where he was scheduled to play for his native Ivory Coast.
Man United have big expectations for the coming season, though oddsmakers are skeptical of their chances at competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League next term.
These top UK betting sites have the Red Devils listed around 33/1 to win the English topflight in 2019-20, which gives them the fifth-best odds of any team in the division.
While most believe Bailly will remain with the Red Devils into the upcoming season, the player is worried he could be sold. United have already been active in the transfer window with the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, but Ed Woodward still has his sights set on England and Leicester City star defender Harry Maguire.
Leicester City holding out
However, Leicester has remained steadfast in their hefty £80 million asking price for Maguire’s signature, which could certainly complicate a potential move this summer. That said, the Metro says that sources close to United believe a deal will still get done before the window slams shut later in the summer.
Maguire signing would give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a wealth of options in central defense. Too many, actually. That would give the Red Devils seven central defenders capable of contributing first-team minutes. While the Norwegian reportedly wants a larger squad with Man United having to compete in Europa League this season, it is believed that at least one
of those centre backs will be sold prior to summer’s end.
Victor Lindelof is firmly established as Solksjaer’s first choice to potentially pair with Maguire, while longtime United stalwart Chris Smalling’s spot in the side is safe, as well.
Solskjaer went so far as to label Axel Tuanzebe as the “future” of Manchester United following the club’s recent 1-0 win over Inter Milan in preseason play, so it’s safe to assume he’s not going anywhere, either.
Man United stars fight it out
That leaves Bailly, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo to compete for the last couple of spots on the squad. With both Jones and Rojo having signed new deals with Man United within the last year, Bailly is worried that could mean he winds up being the player sold before the summer window comes to a close.
Rojo signed a new 3-year deal with the club in 2018, which prevented him from leaving on a free transfer. Jones signed a 4-year deal of his own earlier this year, with Solskjaer vouching for the player following his appointment as Mourinho’s successor.
Bailly currently has one year remaining on his deal with the club, though Man United do retain the option to extend the contract for another 12 months if they so choose. There have reportedly been no new discussions between Bailly’s representatives and the club regarding a potential new contract, though the player is reportedly set to speak with Solskjaer at some point in the coming days to discuss his future with the club.
Bailly arrived from Villarreal for £30 million in the summer of 2016, and he was solid during his first campaign with the side. His spot in the pecking order has taken a hit over the last couple of seasons due to injuries, however, which has resulted in the team’s brass looking at other options to fill the position.