There was a considerable sigh of relief emanating from the red half of Manchester when the United supporters realised that Andre Onana would not be missing up to four weeks of the 2023/24 campaign after all.
Onana, Man United’s new £47 million goalkeeper, retired from international duty following the Qatar World Cup, the result of a very public row with Cameroon coach Rigobert Song.
Unfortunately for Besiktas coach Senol Gunes, however, he finds himself facing a problem Erik ten Hag appears fortunate enough to have avoided.
If, as expected, Besiktas sign Eric Bailly from Manchester United this month, Gunes could be without all three of their first-choice centre-halves when the African Cup of Nations kicks off again in mid-January.
No wonder the veteran tactician, earlier this week, seemed to have reservations about adding Ivory Coast international Bailly to a backline already containing Ghana’s Daniel Amartey and Gambia’s Omar Colley.
Manchester United’s Eric Bailly nears Besiktas move
“We have to buy another centre-back,” Gunes told Gazete Futbol.
“It’s better if it’s not an African player. But sometimes we may be forced to sign one.”
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Factor in Algeria’s Rachid Ghezzal as well, and there is a very real chance that Besiktas will be without four first-team regulars for up to a month of this season. Hardly ideal for a team with genuine Super Lig title ambitions.
Nonetheless, Besiktas appear to be pressing ahead with their pursuit of Manchester United’s £30 million forgotten man. With one year left on his contract, and having been left out of Ten Hag’s squad for United’s pre-season tour of the USA, Bailly will reportedly be allowed to leave on a free transfer.
Besiktas are offering him a three-year deal worth around £33,000-a-week.
Gunes, then, may soon find himself in the rather strange situation of cheering Ivory Coast’s opponents at next year’s AFCON, in the hope that Bailly will be back in Istanbul sooner rather than later.
Man United are also closing in on a deal to sell Harry Maguire to West Ham. The Red Devils agreed a fee with David Moyes’ side on Wednesday.
Fred, Donny Van de Beek and Scott McTominay could all leave too before September’s deadline.