Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has reportedly emerged as a transfer target for both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
According to Jeremy Cross at the Daily Star, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino wants to bring the centre-back to north London in the January transfer window.
Arsenal are also monitoring the Ivorian, although it remains to be seen if the Red Devils would be willing to sell to a Premier League rival, per the report.
Bailly joined Manchester United from Villarreal in 2016 and quickly established himself as one of the club’s strongest centre-back options.
However, he fell out of favour towards the end of last season and has made only three Premier League starts in the current campaign.
Bailly started Manchester United’s 3-2 comeback win over Newcastle United on Saturday. Yet he was substituted after just 18 minutes for Juan Mata, with the Red Devils 2-0 down.
James Robson at the Manchester Evening News shared his view on the change:
James Robson @jamesrobsonES
Bailly coming off for Mata and gets a hug from Mourinho. Don’t think that will smooth things over #mufc
The Red Devils had the second-best defensive record in the Premier League last season with only 28 goals conceded in 38 matches.
However, it’s been a different story in this campaign. Mourinho has been unable to settle on a centre-back pairing with Bailly, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones all having been used.
Rob Dawson at ESPN FC highlighted the defensive changes:
Rob Dawson @RobDawsonESPN
Smalling and Bailly at centre-back tonight. Sixth different centre-half combination Mourinho has used this season in 10 games.
Mourinho has also spoken about his lack of faith in Bailly’s penalty-taking ability after the team were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties against Derby County:
Chris Winterburn @cmwinterburn
Mourinho, "We practise penalties and we see it in training and when we get past the sixth penalty I know we're in trouble with Bailly and Jones."
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport (h/t Kate McGreavy for MailOnline), he does not “see a way back for Bailly” at Manchester United after his early substitution against Newcastle.
Bailly seems to have lost his confidence under Mourinho and is no longer a guaranteed starter at the club.
Mourinho wanted to strengthen his defence over the summer but missed out on moves for Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire, Jerome Boateng and Yerry Mina, per Jack Otway at Express.
It’s possible Mourinho will renew his interest in bringing in a defender when the transfer window reopens. If Bailly is deemed surplus to requirements, he could be used as part of a deal to bring Alderweireld to Old Trafford.
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