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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 during a Manchester United training session.

Bailly's team-mates: Keepers and defenders Article

Our Ivorian centre-back Eric Bailly talks us through his fellow Reds, starting with the goalkeepers and defenders...

Eric Bailly.
What I'm... reading
Eric Bailly says

"To be honest, I’m not really a big reader. But, being a Christian, I often read passages from the Bible, and that does it for me."

Where I'm... visiting
Eric Bailly says

"I'm often out and about with my family, my wife and the children. We go shopping and for walks, making the most of our free time. Sometimes we go to busy places, go to London, or sometimes just a stroll to broaden our horizons."

Eric Bailly with his mother.
Who I'm... inspired by
Eric Bailly says

"Seeing how I spent so much time living with my parents, I would say I'm inspired by my family. Also, in the world of football, there are several players including Sergio Ramos, who is one of the best in the world."

Eric Bailly with his children.
What I'm... laughing at
Eric Bailly says

"My children – I laugh around with them a lot. But there are some TV shows in Ivory Coast I like, with comedians who really make me laugh."

Eric Bailly during a warm-up before a game at Old Trafford.
What I'm... playing
Eric Bailly says

"My son forces me to play with him on the PlayStation, but I’m not that crazy about it myself! Just football games."

Eric Bailly outside the Aon Training Complex.
What I'm... wearing
Eric Bailly says

"At home, it’s always ‘le relax’ – casual clothes, a United shirt or a normal t-shirt. But otherwise, it depends – if we are going out, I wear clothes that suit the occasion. I don’t have a favourite brand."

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
What I'm... Youtubing
Eric Bailly says

"I watch music, short video clips, then maybe some videos of more experienced players. For example I watch videos of Sergio Ramos, and lots of others. That’s my daily viewing when I am on YouTube."

Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand.
Who I'm... following
Eric Bailly says

"I follow most of the players on social media, as well as some ex-players from Manchester United. I follow the club, and then lots more as well."

Eric Bailly.
What I'm... listening to
Eric Bailly says

“I like to listen to music from where I'm from, and I like music performed in French and Spanish too. There’s Melendi, Pablo Albaran and plenty of others I listen to, but those are my favourites at the moment.”

Eric Bailly looks on during a United game in September 2018.
What I'm... watching
Eric Bailly says

"I like to watch a lot of football. So every weekend, before and after the matches, I get those football channels on TV, to watch the various matches across the different leagues."

Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini

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