Reports: Eric Bailly Passes United Medical, Transfer Imminent

Recent transfer target Eric Bailly has passed medical tests today at Manchester United, according to Sky Sports.

Sky Sports had reported talks between United and Bailly’s team, Villarreal, tracing back to Sunday. Despite facing competition from Manchester City, Barcelona and Paris-Saint Germain, United are poised to secure the services of the 22-year-old Ivorian defender for a reported €38 million. Bailly will become the first transfer of the Jose Mourinho era.

As we discussed on Sunday here on the ManUverse, Bailly comes in with great physical tools that would fit Mourinho’s prototypical centre-back profile perfectly. He is a tall, strong, yet quick and athletic defender, specially when attacking the ball in one-on-one situations. At such a young age, Bailly still has plenty of room to develop and mature into a great all-around defender.

For the immediate future, it all still depends on whether Mourinho seeks out another centre-back in the market. If a player like John Stones comes in, Bailly will probably used off the bench and in F.A. Cup-type games. If Mourinho holds off on bringing more defenders to Old Trafford, then we can expect Bailly to start along-side Chris Smalling.

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Youth Upon Youth: United Thinking Long-Term With Bailly

Manchester United are on the verge of signing a new diamond in the rough to shore up the defense. Several news outlets have reported this week Villarreal defender Eric Bailly is set to come to Old Trafford for up to €40 million. With the move, Jose Mourinho brings in a player who not only fits his prototypical centre-back, but who with time will become a stalwart defender for years to come.

Bailly has the physical qualities that fit the profile Mourinho has preferred consistently in his career. At 6-foot-1, the native of Cote d’Ivoire certainly has the height someone like Daley Blind lacks. His height allows for an important physical presence in the aerial defense, but it is his sneaky good quickness that makes him stand out. He led the defense for a Villarreal team that finishing with a surprising fourth place in La Liga and a run to the semifinal of the Europa League. In key match-ups against the “big three” (Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid), Bailly showcased his unique combination of physical and technical skills.

 

Making the leap from a low-pressure situation at Villarreal to an immediate perform-now scenario is a daunting task. Without looking to far, look at what has happened to Phil Jones. He came in with much fanfare, even having Sir Alex Ferguson laud him as a future United legend.

Since then, Jones has bounced around from the injured list to the bench and sometimes to the actual pitch. He has not learned to play with caution and precision when challenging for the ball. Now, Jones is to the point where he, after five seasons, still struggles to compete for a starting spot. I don’t mean to reign on the Bailly parade, but he is making quite a leap of faith with this move. He is to be handled and developed with patience but with the challenge to grow in and out of the field.

Eric Bailly’s stats compete fairly favorably with last season’s centre-backs (Source: Sqwaka)

Once the transfer is complete, United will have made a sound investment to say the least. Bailly has all the tools to grow quickly and make an immediate impact under Mourinho. This is an investment not only for the future, but also for short-term results. Don’t be surprised if we are talking about Eric Bailly, the new star centre-back as soon as next season.

Quick Links 6/4/2016: The First Arrivals Landing Soon

Flying like a butterfly and stinging like a bee it’s your daily links to today’s Manchester United news, Quick Links!

 

Zlatan Only a Signature Away

The most talked about signing so far this summer looks to be looming close. Free agent forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has agreed personal terms with Manchester United, according to The Guardian. Ibra’s agent, Mino Raiola, and United have a deal that will pay the 34-year-old his desired salary of £200 thousand a week (about $270 thousand). The official confirmation will be made once Jose Mourinho and Zlatan agree on the forward’s role in the team, which he expects to be as the starting striker. Without a doubt, Zlatan would be the best striker in the roster -even with Marcus Rashford’s amazing run- and should undoubtedly start as the striker right away. Once Mou and Zlatan -close friends since their days at Inter- agree, Ibra will become a Red Devil.

But Ibra is not Coming Alone

Before we get excited about Ibra’s arrival, a young centre-back is also poised to come to Old Trafford. Manchester Evening News reports Villarreal centre-back Eric Bailly is poised the become the first transfer of the Mourinho era. The 22-year-old Ivorian will reportedly join for £32 million, adding much needed depth and youth to the centre-back position. Bailly was a key contributor to Villarreal’s surprise run to a Champions League spot in La Liga and to the semifinals of the Europa League. With his physical traits and young age, he has a lot of room to develop into a great centre-back under Mourinho.

Big Rival Out For Paul Pogba

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has had plenty of suitors this off-season, but a big player in the race to sign the youngster may have stepped aside. The Daily Mirror reports Pep Guaridola’s Manchester City has pulled out of the bidding for Pogba. This clears the way for Mourinho to potentially bid a Premier-League-record fee for the former United prospect. Whether Juventus is willing to let their biggest star go this summer is the other variable in this equation. If Mou manages to bring Pogba back to Manchester, it would be the type of coup that could springboard United to the top of the title contenders immediately.

 

Quick Links 6/1/2016: Giggsy Could Go Bye-Bye

Ryan Giggs may not have a space in Jose Mourinho’s staff, but we know Quick Links will always have a place in your hearts (aw!). Fresh off the oven is your daily recap of the best news from the world of Manchester United:

No Place for Giggsy After All

The Manchester Evening News reported that Ryan Giggs will imminently end his 29-year run at Manchester United. Giggs had been David Moyes’s and Louis van Gaal’s assistant manager the last three season after a legendary 23-year career as a player for the Red Devils. With Mourinho’s arrival, Giggs’ presence in the coaching staff was put in doubt due to the close relationship Mourinho has with his staff members, specially with his number two, Rui Faria. The Manchester paper confirms Faria will remain Mourinho’s assistant at United, while Giggs had been offered a lesser role. It is no secret that Giggs wanted the manager job left vacant by van Gaal, and anything less than that would not entice the United legend to stay on board. It will be a bittersweet end to a historic career, but for Giggsy an opportunity to manage will come and a United return in the future is certainly not out of the question.

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Tony Times Two

After a superb performance last month, Anthony Martial took the Player of the Month award for the month of May, as was announced by United’s official site. Martial deservedly won the fan vote by a wide margin over Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia. The French youngster was the driving force of the United offense through their run in early May and at the tail-end of the season, including goals in the draw against eventual-champions Leicester and two in the heart-breaker at West Ham. It is the second monthly award won by Martial after also winning in December. Only David De Gea won the twice as well.

Chicharito Speaks Out

Former United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez spoke with FourFourTwo about his career and exit from Old Trafford. The Mexican forward said if he had “more chances at United (or Real Madrid), I would probably been ‘the star’ there as well.” Chicharito quickly became a fan favorite shortly after his arrival from Guadalajara in 2010, even stealing some starting caps from Dimitar Berbatov under Sir Alex Ferguson. Once Ferguson retired, his career wound down and his role reduced to “super sub,” and with Louis van Gaal’s arrival and being sent on loan to Real Madrid in 2014, it was clear “Chicharito” was not in the Dutch manager’s plans. With the abysmal lack of offensive production this season, a bonafide goal-scorer like “Chicharito” was absolutely missed, specially with the great season he just had at Bayer Leverkusen.

Add Schneiderlin to the List

Nine United players were included in final rosters for Euro 2016 at yesterday’s deadline. Today, the number went up to ten with the inclusion of Morgan Schneiderlin to France’s squad in place of the injured Lassana Diarra. Diarra experienced swelling in his left knee, and the French Football Federation ultimately ruled him out of the tournament all together earlier today. Schneiderlin, who joins teammate Anthony Martial, will compete for a starting spot with the likes of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante, and Moussa Sissoko.

 

Quick Links 5/31/2016: Rashford Makes It to the Euro

Skyrocketing like Marcus Rashford comes Quick Links! Your daily fix of links on news and updates from the United world has arrived:

Nine Red Devils Selected to Euro 2016

Today marked the final day for teams to submit the final 23-man rosters for the upcoming Euro 2016, which will feature nine United players across seven national teams. The big news came from Roy Hogdson announcing that Marcus Rashford is part England’s 23-man squad in the latest chapter of the youngster’s amazing rise to prominence.

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Hodgson also included captain Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling representing England. The rest of the list includes Anthony Martial featuring for host nation France, Marouane Fellaini for Belgium, David De Gea for defending champions Spain, Paddy McNair for Northern Ireland, Bastian Schweinsteiger for Germany, and Matteo Darmian for Italy.

Mata and Blind Could Be Shown the Door

ESPN FC reported earlier today the team is willing to listen to offers for Juan Mata and Daley Blind as part of Jose Mourinho’s plans to remake the roster for his first season at Old Trafford. Earlier today I made the argument that Blind is a important piece in United’s future and must be kept, but Mourinho is determined to bring in another center back to play alongside Chris Smalling. Mata’s exit has been speculated along with the rumblings of Mourinho’s arrival due to the history between the two at Chelsea. Mata arrived at United when Mourinho deemed him expendable shortly after his return to Chelsea.

Portuguese League Out for Mourinho?

Jose Mourinho, while at a lecture in Lisbon University, told the evening Manchester Evening News that the team will not sign Portuguese league players this summer. This certainly comes as a bit of surprise considering the team has been heavily linked to Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Mario and also were very interested in Benfica youngster Renato Sanches before he opted to sign for Bayern Munich earlier this month.