Harry Maguire’s fantastic performances for England at Euro 2020 have reminded everybody why Manchester United spent £80 million on him.
Victor Lindelof has impressed for Sweden too, while United have been consistently linked with a move for another centre-back.
Well, don’t sleep on Eric Bailly. The Ivorian recently signed a new contract and is expected to stay part of United’s squad next season, with Axel Tuanzebe possibly leaving on loan [ESPN].
Even though the MEN speculate Bailly could be used in a swap with Pau Torres, right now he is a Manchester United player.
Get past him if you can
When Bailly did play for United he was often very effective, and played a key role in cup games.
One key statistic via FBRef.com shows how effective he was in the Premier League too.
Eric Bailly was the only Manchester United centre-back to be dribbled past zero times in 2020/21.
Harry Maguire was dribbled past 12 times and Victor Lindelof nine times.
Bailly played a total of 916 minutes, while while substantially less than Maguire and Lindelof, is still a substantial amount of playing time.
For comparison, Axel Tuanzebe played 404 Premier League minutes and was dribbled past twice.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk played 370 minutes of the season and was dribbled past once.
Raphael Varane was dribbled past nine times by forwards in La Liga in 2020/21.
One of the reasons Bailly is dribbled past so rarely is because opponents are frightened to take him on.
Troy Deeney was once quoted by The Sun saying: “When you play against a tough centre-half, like for Man United, [Eric] Bailly, you think ‘oh God, he’s going to give me a whack.”
A defender like this is always good to have in the squad, and United might want to give careful consideration to which match-ups Bailly is selected for.
When facing a nimble, tricky opponent, Bailly might be the right call ahead of Victor Lindelof. He was very effective in shutting down Alexander Isak when United played Real Sociedad over two legs.
It is hard to have too much faith in Bailly being a 50 game a season starter like Maguire, but he can still play a valuable role over the course of the campaign if used properly.
While there may be a new centre-back incoming, Bailly appears to be sticking around and will want to show his worth. Don’t forget about him.
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