AC Milan have set their sights on Manchester United outcast Eric Bailly, with the Rossoneri reportedly seeking a loan deal.

According to a report from Sky Sport Italia, as relayed by MilanNews.it, Eric Bailly has emerged as a potential target for AC Milan. The Serie A giants are in the market for defensive reinforcements in this January transfer window and are mainly scouring the Premier League for options, especially after the success of Fikayo Tomori.

The Manchester United centre-back is one of three candidates to be identified as the top target for the Rossoneri. The club primarily favours a loan deal with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season, although they are open to a standard short-term loan deal as well.

Milan’s interest in Bailly is hardly a surprise as the club are well aware of the defender’s precarious situation at Old Trafford. Over the past couple of years, the centre-back has fallen behind the likes of Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire in the pecking order.

Since the start of the 2017/18 campaign, the former Villarreal starlet has failed to muster over 1,000 minutes of league action in a single season. Although his 2019/20 campaign was marred by a serious knee injury, the defender has clearly struggled to remain a prevalent feature of the club’s first-team plans in recent years.

Manchester United's Ivorian defender Eric Bailly plays during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 28, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Bailly’s role in the first-team could diminish further as Manchester United reportedly seek to secure the services of Antonio Rudiger in the summer. Milan, though, are prepared to offer the Ivorian an opportunity to resurrect his career by signing him on loan this January.

The Rossoneri are desperately looking for a defender that can replace the injured Simon Kjaer during the second half of the campaign. Stefano Pioli’s men have already targeted multiple Premier League defenders, including Tottenham Hotspur’s Japhet Tanganga. But in Bailly, Milan could find themselves an experienced campaigner who has the pedigree to perform in a league like the Serie A.

Indeed, the Manchester United star has notched up over 100 competitive appearances for the club despite his struggles with a lack of game-time and injuries. He has also won 41 caps for the Ivorian national team and is currently representing his country in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations. Whether he ends up securing a move away from Old Trafford to the San Siro before the end of the month remains to be seen.

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