Manchester United could be on the verge of losing one of their best defenders looking towards the 2018-19 season.
According to a report from The Daily Mirror, it seems centre-back Eric Bailly wants to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season. Bailly would be complaining of a lack of first-team minutes, as he has been limited to just 11 Premier League outings during the current season. That’s quite a change from last season in which he registered 25 EPL appearances while looking like a potential building block on defence.
That’s not a stretch. Bailly has that rare mixture of strength and an accurate touch that make fans remember of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, United’s latest world-class centre-back pairing. He continues to be a solid building block for the club’s future, but it is hard to argue against the lack of opportunities he has received this season. Injuries have played a role, but so has his poor form. If we are being quite honest, both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have outplayed him at times.
So… what should Manchester United do with him?
The question, then, becomes quite simple. Should Manchester United keep him on the squad for next season? Or perhaps it’s time to cash in on the Ivory Coast international before it’s too late?
The answer is easier than you think. Manchester United shouldn’t part ways with Bailly at any reason or circunstance. He is just too young, too talented and has so much upside to even consider a potential departure from the team. Even if the club had to pay €38 million on his services back in July 2016. Selling him could bring a nice cash flow to United, but in this case, money doesn’t make the world go around.
Plus, let’s consider the other in-house alternatives in case Bailly leaves the side. Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind are not good enough to be starting centre-backs anymore, and Victor Lindelof didn’t adjust as expected in his first season on English soil. The team can always rely on Smalling and Jones, but for how long? At this point, Smalling is who he is and there are far other alternatives that represent an upgrade over him. And Bailly is, certainly, one of them.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mourinho loves Bailly. He was the one who signed him from Villarreal almost two years and, hadn’t it been due to injuries, he would’ve probably recovered his role as a starter sooner than later. Bottom line, it’s just too early to let a 24-year-old full with potential leave the side just because he had one subpar season.
The team should know better than that. And while Bailly definitively needs to play better next season, he deserves one more chance in the club. His impressive debut season showcased his talent, and he needs stay at Old Trafford for the long-term scenario.