Eric Bailly will now stay with Manchester United until 2024. The Ivory Coast international signed for the Red Devils for £30 million in 2016 but has struggled for consistent game time. Bailly’s extension gives the defender a chance to live up to his potential after a stop-start career thus far.
Eric Bailly: Manchester Career Revitalising With More Game Time Still Needed
Bailly Managed Just Four Premier League Games for Manchester United Last Season
Eric Bailly’s new contract will run until June 2024, with the option of a further year. The aim for the centre back is to stay injury-free and lift the Europa League trophy this year. As reported on the Manchester United website, Bailly spoke of his love for the club: This decision is something I didn’t have to think about, I love this club and I love playing for Manchester United. I’m happy and so are my family, everything is good. Now the moment with my injury has passed and I’m fit and feel good, and that’s it. A new contract is like a new challenge and I’m ready for this.
Bailly offers a unique blend of qualities that other players at Manchester United lack. Pace is one aspect of his game that can be pivotal. Neither Harry Maguire nor Victor Lindelof are known for their speed, and as the two first-choice centre-backs, Bailly can replace them if his pace is needed. Harry Maguire, as reported in the Manchester Evening News, spoke of his blossoming partnership with Bailly: “With Eric, he’s back and playing really well since he’s been free of injury and we have formed a really good partnership. It’s a nice partnership that has blossomed over the last month”.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke of how Bailly’s skills can help his squad: “He possesses fantastic speed, the timing of tackle and has that aggression which, of course, you need as a centre-back. He is a popular member of the squad and we look forward to continuing to work with him going forward.”
Bailly’s Persistent Injury Problems Have Held Him back
Eric Bailly encaptured Manchester United fans in his first season. Signing for then-manager Jose Mourinho, Bailly’s first game was a massive success. He was named man of the match in the victory over Leicester City in the FA Community Shield. In a repeat of this, Bailly was the man of the match a week later in a league game against Bournemouth. After racking up great performances, Bailly also won Manchester United’s player of the month award in August 2016. However, on October 23, 2016, Bailly’s first big injury hit. Suffering from a knee injury mid-game against Chelsea.
Since then, Bailly has yet to return to the fine vein of form that fans saw in the early stages of his United career. In the following 2017-2018 season, Bailly’s injury problems sidelined him for over 100 days. Finishing the season with just 18 appearances in all competitions for United. The 2018/2019 season was no better as Bailly once again only made 18 appearances for United. This time a knee injury in a preseason game against Tottenham Hotspur dashed Bailly’s hopes of a good start to the campaign. These injuries tempered the expectations of Bailly’s career as frustration levels grew.
Eric Bailly has made just 62 league appearances since joining in 2016, an average of 12 Premier League games per season.
Despite Injury Problems There is Hope for Eric Bailly and His Manchester United Career
Whenever Bailly has played he looks impressive. His first season with United is an indicator of how good the Ivory Coast international can be when fit. His speed and game intelligence will offer United a different approach in games that require more defensive flexibility. And when partnered with Harry Maguire, the pair look like a perfect fit of brain and brawn.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also feeling positive about Bailly’s new approach. Speaking on Manchester United’s club website, Solskjaer stated: “Eric has improved his robustness since my time as manager and he will continue to play a significant part in the squad.” With Solskjaer’s backing, Bailly could be an integral part of an exciting renaissance of Manchester United. The Red Devils are second in the Premier League and are in with a chance of winning the Europa League.
Eric Bailly’s Manchester United career could just be beginning.