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Eric Bailly joined Manchester United from Villarreal in the summer of 2016 and quickly made a name for himself at Old Trafford.

Bailly's quality as an aspiring footballer was spotted by Spanish outfit Espanyol during a youth tournament held in Burkina Faso. He was signed by the Catalan club in December 2011 and joined their youth system at 17, but it was 10 months before he received a work permit that would enable him to play. Once his papers arrived, he became a regular in the Espanyol B team, playing under the name of Eric Bertrand, until deciding to use his mother’s surname, Bailly, instead. He went on to become a regular in Espanyol’s first team before his powerful displays in the heart of defence earned him a move to Villarreal in January 2015. The 6ft 1in defender’s first big move came during the 2015 African Cup of Nations, in which he netted his spot-kick in the final penalty shoot-out as Ivory Coast beat Ghana to claim their second title. After a slow start to life at Villarreal, he made himself a mainstay in the club’s centre of defence in the following season, as his tough tackling and no-nonsense approach helped the Yellow Submarine to finish fourth in La Liga and reach the semi-finals of the Europa League. Bailly secured a move to Old Trafford ahead of the 2016/17 campaign and his versatility proved crucial, as he made 38 appearances across all competitions and featured at both centre-back and right-back. Although he missed the Europa League final through suspension, he did play the full 90 minutes at Wembley as United overcame Southampton to win the League Cup earlier in the season. Bailly’s trademark tough tackling has made him a fan favourite in Manchester, but it is his impressive ball-playing ability and anticipation skills that have taken his game to the next level. Injury meant that the defender had a very stop-start campaign in 2017/18, but when available Bailly was a dependable as ever and even managed to notch his first goal for the club in a 4-0 win against Swansea.

Read Less About Eric Bailly
  • Position


  • Country

    Ivory Coast

  • Date of birth

  • Joined

  • United debut

    v Leicester City (N)

To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do.


Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia smile for the camera while sat in a dugout during Tout 2017 in America

It'll soon be pre-season! Article

The World Cup is reaching its climax - and the start of United's pre-season is tantalisingly close.

Eric Bailly & Gareth Bale
Eric Bailly says

"It’s always good to play against the big teams and test yourself against the best players.”

1: He's got it all's Joe Ganley says

Eric is often compared to Nemanja Vidic, rather than Rio Ferdinand, but I'd argue his style combines the best of that legendary pairing in one amazing package.

2: Born for the big stage's Joe Ganley says

The pressures of playing for United have not fazed Eric once since his arrival. He’s responded to the challenge with glorious ease and looks like he’s relishing every minute.

Did you know?

Eric Bailly completed his transfer to United from La Liga club Villarreal on this day in 2016.

3: The great entertainer's Joe Ganley says

If you follow any of the team’s social media accounts, you’ll be well aware that, like Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, Eric is fond of a good dance. Give him a follow!

4: No messing about's Joe Ganley says

Bailly doesn’t just win the ball, but puts his whole soul and being into the act, making sure the opponent knows just how easily he’s accomplished his task.

5: He's still only 24's Joe Ganley says

Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in 2013 that players’ best years are between the age of 24 and 28 so, providing Eric can stay fit, we have one hell of a defender on our hands.

Five reasons we love Eric Bailly Article

Join us in celebrating the tough-tackling Ivorian, on the two-year anniversary of his arrival from Villarreal.

'We can come back even stronger' Article

Down? Of course! Out? No chance! Eric Bailly has stated United can be bigger and better next season.

Eric Bailly talks to Jose Mourinho during a game

Mourinho: Why Bailly has been absent Article

The boss explains why he has been picking centre-backs other than Eric Bailly in recent weeks.

Eric Bailly walks down the tunnel as he arrives at Old Trafford for a game
Jose Mourinho says

"Bailly's fine. No injury. But he's the only one of our central defenders whose country is not at the World Cup."

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