Wednesday 29 March 2017

Eric Bailly passes medical at Man United - here is everything you need to know about Mourinho's first signing

Eric Bailly of Villarreal CF
Eric Bailly of Villarreal CF

Eric Bailly has passed a medical and will become Jose Mourinho's first signing at Manchester United, according to reports.

It is understood a fee of £25m has been agreed with United to pay add ons depending on appearances.

Here is everything you need to know about the youngster.

The beginning

Eric Bertrand Bailly was born in Bingerville, Ivory Coast - the same place as Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony.

Big break

His talents were spotted by Espanyol's Emilio Montagut during a youth tournament organised by Spanish company Promoesport in Burkina Faso.

Slow start

Although he arrived at Cornella-El Prat in December 2011, and moved into Espanyol's youth system at the age of 17, it was 10 months before Bailly received his work permit. It was then another 10 months until he made his first-team debut in October 2014. That first taste of professional football, at the age of 20, was a La Liga match against Real Sociedad, which Espanyol won 2-0.

Rapid rise

Within four months of making his La Liga debut, he had secured a move to Villarreal and helped his country to the African Cup of Nations.

The switch was agreed while Bailly was midway through playing the Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament that Ivory Coast eventually won on a penalty shootout. The defender, the youngest player in Herve Renard's squad, having only made his international debut the previous month, kept his nerve to convert his spot kick.

Check out the 'Beast' in action here:

Bargain buy

Bailly cost Villarreal just £4.4 million when he moved south from cash-strapped Espanyol. The 22-year-old was bought to replace the then Arsenal-bound Gabriel Paulista.

Suited for the Premier League

At 6ft 1in and with an imposing style, Bailly should meet the physical demands of the Premier League. He was part of a Villarreal defence that conceded just 35 goals in 38 games and played all the way across it, deputising in the full-back positions when necessary.

Discipline issues

Bailly's problems with on-field discipline would be a potential issue to monitor for any interested manager. He received 10 yellow cards and one red in La Liga last season, but if he can learn to control his temperament then he clearly has the tools to become a top player. Indeed, his positioning is solid - he averages 2.4 interceptions per game.

What they say

Terry Gibson - Sky Sports La Liga expert

"It is an interesting signing and due to his attributes I fully understand why Manchester United are interested in the player.

"Bailly is a fast, tall, athletic and strong central defender, who is particularly good when faced with one-on-one situations. When in possession he likes to run out from the back with the ball and has even looked comfortable in these situations when he has played as a right-back for Villarreal, venturing forward and not looking out of place in attacking play."

Manolo Marquez - Espanyol coach who gave Bailly his debut

"Eric was a very pleasant boy. He was very shy, but a great young professional. He lived in the residence with Espanyol's other young players and became a B team regular. We knew him as Eric Bertrand. Bailly was from his name from his mother's side and he chose to use that name later. We played one preseason game at Palamos and my daughter Carla had her photo taken with him. I told her keep the photo because he was going to be a famous player one day."

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