What had felt like a triumphant return soon turned into another misery for Eric Bailly in his 50th Premier League appearance on Sunday.
He was doing a solid job in neutralizing Gonzalo Higuain’s threat, before an unfortunate challenge saw him suffer a nasty looking knee injury.
Just as Manchester United were regaining somewhat defensive stability, Bailly’s injury undoes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s planning. He’ll be out for the season and needs to work hard to return before next season, depending on just how serious his ailment may be. It’s no secret that the Red Devils will look to reinforce their defence with stronger players next season, but Bailly shouldn’t be used as a sacrificial lamb to make way.
Granted, his style of defending is unconventional and he’s too aggressive occasionally, but he’s more effective than multiple other defenders. Bailly isn’t as error-prone as Marcos Rojo nor does he turn off like Phil Jones, but his lack of fitness plagues his development. However, Bailly’s impressive chemistry with Victor Lindelof proves there’s something potentially special between them.
The Ivory Coast international’s only made around 17 appearances in all competitions this season, but United haven’t lost many with him. Be it a luck charm or what not, his stats prove he’s a reliable figure. In limited appearances, Bailly’s averaged 3.1 clearances, 1.3 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game in the Premier League (stats via WhoScored).
Bailly’s distribution is also miles ahead of the other shaky figures. He’s confident, ruthless and in due time can become a defensive pillar who can be suited alongside any newcoming defenders with ease.
United fans, do you think Bailly can be a regular next season? Join the discussion by commenting below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!