Manchester United star Eric Bailly has reportedly emerged as a January transfer target for North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
As per an exclusive report from the Daily Star, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are set to battle each other for the signing of Manchester United defender Eric Bailly in the winter transfer window. The 24-year-old appears to be out of favour at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho, and is set to be offered an escape route in January, with both the North London giants vying for his signature.
Bailly was one of Mourinho’s first signings at Manchester United, joining from Villarreal in the summer of 2016 in a £30 million deal. The centre-back enjoyed a brilliant debut campaign, during which he established himself as the manager’s first-choice defender.
However, things have been on the downhill for the 24-year-old ever since he picked up an injury in November last year that kept him out of action for four months. Mourinho was desperate to sign a new centre-back throughout the summer window, which cast a doubt over the future of Bailly at Manchester United. However, with the club not able to bring in new defenders, he stayed put.
The ongoing season hasn’t been very kind on Bailly, as he found himself out of the first-team picture following the 3-2 defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion in gameweek two of the Premier League.
The Ivory Coast international did make his way back into the team, starting back to back games against Valencia and Newcastle United, but was subbed off just 18 minutes into the game against the latter with Manchester United 2-0 down very early.
This seems to have been the last straw for the defender, who has reportedly grown disillusioned with life under Mourinho and does not see a long-term future at the club, as long as the Portuguese is in-charge. Moreover, with the manager demanding the board to sanction moves for Milan Skriniar and Alessio Romagnoli in January, this could very well be the end of the road for Bailly at Manchester United.
There seems to be no lack of interest in Bailly’s services, however, with Arsenal and Tottenham both competing to sign him, should he become available.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is believed to be a huge admirer of the 24-year-old and is keen to land him, amid doubts over the long-term future of defensive mainstay Toby Alderweireld, who, coincidentally, was a top transfer target for Manchester United in the summer. And Bailly could possibly be used as a bait to bring the Tottenham contract rebel to Old Trafford in January.
Arsenal did strengthen their backline in the summer by bringing in the experienced Sokratis Papastathopoulos. However, defensive issues continue to persist at the Emirates under new boss Unai Emery, which has left the club looking for more reinforcements. Emery has seen Bailly from close quarters during his time in the La Liga and is intent on signing him in the winter window.
Should Manchester United sanction a move to sign another defender in January, it would almost be certain that Bailly will be on his way out. However, it remains to be seen if the Red Devils would be willing to allow the 24-year-old to join a direct rival, with Arsenal and Tottenham interested.