Eric Bailly looked sublime against Liverpool yesterday, but what does that mean for his Man United future?
Manchester United Football Club kicked off pre-season in the best way possible, against a Liverpool side who are amongst the top teams on the planet.
Erik ten Hag will no doubt have been pleased. Anthony Martial stole the headlines with a stunning performance, while youngsters Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage also impressed.
Another man who seems to have rediscovered the confidence under Ten Hag is Eric Bailly.
The defender, often forgotten about due to a lack of minutes, looked rejuvenated and brimming with belief. The Ivorian was the senior presence in the XI for the second 45 – and Bailly absolutely set the tone.
First and foremost, his job is to remain solid at the back. He made Liverpool’s new £100m signing, Darwin Nunez, look like a non-league striker.
Bailly was typically flying into tackles, winning headers galore, making key interceptions and even bombing up the field and starting the United attack.
It was his insane run from deep that led to Facundo Pellistri scoring United’s fourth and all-but securing the victory.
Check out the run by Bailly here:
So what does this mean for Bailly’s future?
This brilliant performance from the often-forgotten 28-year-old absolutely gives United something to think about. Bailly has been linked with a transfer away from Old Trafford this summer, while the Reds continue to be in the hunt to sign a new centre-half.
Perhaps Ten Hag is now thinking twice. Although it was only 45 minutes of football, Bailly looked every bit at home in the United starting line-up.
In terms of fit, Bailly’s aggressive style of defending coupled with his brilliant ability when the ball is at his feet, arguably makes him the best-suited defender to Ten Hag’s system.
Bailly’s awful injury record is the only downside
Nobody can doubt Bailly’s ability. He was outstanding during his debut season under Jose Mourinho – but that was the only campaign where he was completely fit and healthy.
In the five seasons since, the 28-year-old has spent way too much time on the treatment table. He’s come back from problems time and time again, only to get injured the next time he takes to the field.
This has to be a big concern for Ten Hag, who loves reliability from his players.
Pre-season tour has to be perfect
Bailly simply cannot put one single foot wrong if he’s to force his way into the Ten Hag team on a regular basis. With five games remaining, Bailly will be given plenty more minutes to prove his worth to the new manager.
The former Villareal man has to play with the exact same intensity, effort, drive and desire in all of those matches to even give himself a slim chance at success here in Manchester. At the very least, it does pose Ten Hag with a question he has to answer.
In the end, I still believe Bailly will be moved on by mutual decision. The defender wants to be playing week-in-week-out and I’m not sure he’ll get that opportunity at Old Trafford.
Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof are all presumably still ahead of Bailly in the pecking order and I do not see that changing anytime soon. That’s before you factor in a genuine possibility that Lisandro Martinez is signed this summer.
Do you think Eric Bailly should be given another chance at Man United? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.