Manchester United’s only first team African player Eric Bailly will miss out on club action during the AFCON (African Cup of Nations) 2017, as he helped his nation Ivory Coast qualify for the tournament to be held in Gabon.
Bailly was Manchester United’s main signing of the Jose Mourinho era as the Red Devils shelled out ₤30 million for his services. Bailly has since then impressed all with his performances for United, but he his set to miss at least a month as Ivory Coast gear up to defend their title at Gabon.
He will also miss the all important tie against Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp’s visit Old Trafford is going to clash with his national duties.Not only that, he will also miss another home game against Hull City and a trip to Stoke.
Apart from that, should the tournament go to plan for the defending champions, then he will also be absent for the visit to Premier League title holders Leicester City in early February – the side against whom we won the Man of the Match award in August’s Community Shield.
Manchester United have made a splendid start to the campaign, winning all three of their Premier League matches and Bailly has been involved in some stellar performances. His absence will leave a void in the back line and having settled into squad, he will be missed, albeit it being for a few matches.
Bailly is quick, strong and good with the ball, having a commanding presence at the back.
It is not as though United are short of options at the back with with Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo present in the team to make up for Bailly’s absence.
Smalling is an experienced defender and can easily fill the void at the back. But after the AFCON is over, Mourinho will have to juggle with the options of who to start again, especially if Smalling does a decent job.
Rojo himself is not a bad option to have and should Mourinho want to use another defender, the Argentine would certainly fit in.
For now though, United would want to concentrate on their games at hand and worry later about the tournament which will run from January 14th to February 5th early next year.