New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has officially made his first signing at Old Trafford as Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly is now a Red Devil. The signing has filled the supporters with a sense of optimism, and there’s no shortage of opinions about how he could possibly be the defender the Red Devils are looking for to make a true difference to challenge for the English Premier League title.
Eric Bailly Is Now a Red Devil
With all the hype from the supporters aside, Bailly is nothing short of an impressive specimen physically, technically, and in regards to his composure in defense and on the ball. The first thing that people are going to look at, obviously, when signing a centre back is how successful they are in their tackling. Even though tackling is a vital point to look at for how effective Bailly could be, the best one to look at would be interceptions, as that is a wonderful statistic to show his defensive awareness and his ability to act on what he’s seeing in an impressively quick fashion. For the two competitions that he played in enough to record a significant sample size, the Europa League and La Liga, he was able to post some impressive numbers that cannot be understated. In his 25 appearances, and 2,026 minutes, in La Liga last year he averaged 2.6 interceptions per match, and in his seven appearances in the Europa League, a total of 616 minutes, he averaged 1.7 interceptions per match. These numbers were only surpassed by a singular Manchester United player last season, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who only made 10 appearances across all competitions.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 8, 2016
With all statistics and analytics aside, there is more than enough reason to praise this signing from Mourinho, and it’s showing the intention he has to bring youth into the club to move forward, something that has been a criticism over his career and one of the worries about him coming to United. Bailly isn’t just a promising player, but a great athlete who exhibits strength, straight-line speed, and agility, with the potential to be a future star. A centre back that has the ability to steal a pass, break up play, and likes to dribble is a recipe for success under a manager that typically likes to play on the counter attack. Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly combined would arguably be the fastest centre back duo in the premier league and would make the Manchester United counter attack something that will have any opposition shaking in their boots.
There are some things that Bailly will need to improve on if he is to fulfil the promise that’s coming along with his signing, as is expected from a player of his age. One of the slights against his play-style is that he holds onto the ball for too long, which could very easily result in losing the ball in the defensive third, leaving him out of position and United at a disadvantage. One of the other downsides of his play is that he tends to be a bit overly aggressive in his tackles, and tends to foul fairly frequently. The one thing that can be said about overly aggressive centre backs though is that there used to be one roaming in the back four by the name of Nemanja Vidic, and he’s nothing short of a club favorite. These downsides are to be expected from a defender who relies heavily on his strength and speed, and under the tutelage of Mourinho, they aren’t anything that should cause any sense of legitimate worry.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 8, 2016
The one thing that can be said for sure about this signing is this, supporters and fans of other clubs alike have come to an agreement that this is a great signing, and is rightly being met with a sense of optimism. And, as stated above, Bailly shall definitely flourish under the tutelage of the likes of Mourinho and Smalling alike, and should turn out to be a great long-term prospect for the back line.