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.