WHO IS ERIC BAILLY?
Where is he from: Ivory Coast
Reported Fee: 30 million pounds
Manchester United have signed central defender Eric Bailly, as the 22-year-old becomes the first signing of Jose Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford.
He has joined the Red Devils on a four-year contract, with an option for two extra years at the end of the deal.
The young defender has experienced a rapid rise in the past 18 months since joining Villarreal in the 2015 January transfer window from a cash-strapped RCD Espanyol.
Bailly joined the Yellow Submarine having only made five appearances for Espanyol the club he joined after being spotted at a youth tournament in Burkina Faso.
The 22-year-old was signed as replacement for Gabriel Paulista who moved to Arsenal in the same window.
The Ivory Coast international was a rock at the back for Villarreal this season having formed part of a back four that would keep a total of 17 clean sheets, a stat which ensured the club would finish in fourth position, which secured them Champions League football for next season.
Bailly was also part of the squad which made a run to the Europa League semi-finals before succumbing to United’s rivals in Liverpool, with the defender missing the second leg at Anfield with a hamstring injury.
The former Espanyol man has faced some of the best players in the world, playing in Spain’s La Liga on a weekly basis and he has never shied away from the challenge.
The new United signing featured both times as Villarreal became the only side all season to shut out Atletico Madrid, defeating them 1-0 at home before a 0-0 stalemate away from home.
The usual central defender has proven he can play out of position, having being deployed at right back in a game against newly crowned European Champions Real Madrid.
The 22-year-old was faced with marking Cristiano Ronaldo and later Gareth Bale, in a match where the youngster played almost the entire second half with a dislocated shoulder.
His toughness will be ringing ears to United fans, who have been blessed with hard and toughed central defenders throughout the year.
The main traits Bailly relies on are his pace, strength and ability on the ball, which should see him slot into the Premier League style of play with ease.
If Chris Small and Bailly are able to strike up a partnership from the outset of next season, the club may have found themselves a partnership for the next decade.