Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that the Red Devils are in talks with Eric Bailly over a new contract. The Ivorian defender is into the final 15 months of his deal at Old Trafford and could potentially leave the club on a free in 2022.
However, Solskjaer has provided some much-needed clarity over Bailly's long-term future at the club by confirming that he is, indeed, in line for a new deal.
Speaking on the 26-year-old defender's situation ahead of their clash against West Ham, Solskjaer revealed;
"Yes we are talking to Eric [Bailly] and Eric’s representatives [over a new deal]."
"He [Bailly] is keeping fitter for longer and you can see his performances as well and I have been very happy with him. His playing style has sometimes made him lose too many games because 100 games that is not enough for the period he has been here. He is getting more and more robust so yes he is one we are talking to."
Bailly's time at Old Trafford has been marred by several injuries, limiting him to just 100 appearances despite joining the club from Villarreal in 2016/17 under Jose Mourinho, who made the centre-back his first signing as Manchester United boss. He has, since then, grown into a popular figure with the players and fans alike.
Despite his injury-prone nature, Manchester United appear keen to hold on to Bailly, who has impressed this season despite having played only 15 times across all competitions.
Bailly is also adamant that he has more to offer Manchester United. In a recent interview, the defender stated that he wants to repay the club for their show of faith in him during difficult moments and is keen to remain at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer also reserved some praise for on-loan star Jesse Lingard ahead of the game against West Ham United, saying;
"For Jesse [Lingard], it’s really worked out. For David [Moyes], it’s really worked out and for us, as a club, as well because we know that Jesse’s position is a 10 and we have got Bruno [Fernandes] there. So, for me, it was a no brainer to get Jesse a chance to prove himself and play some football again. He has been really bright for them and he is finally back to himself."
Manchester United's centre-back hunt goes on despite Bailly talks
Whether Eric Bailly opts to extend his stay at Old Trafford or not, Manchester United are certain to purchase a quality centre-back this summer. Solskjaer's side are believed to be on the lookout for a suitable, long-term partner for Harry Maguire at the back.
While Victor Lindelof has done a respectable job alongside the captain, the Red Devils are in need of a player with good recovery pace, allowing Manchester United to play a higher line. While Bailly ticks these boxes, his unavailability and, on occasion, rash decision-making leave more to be desired from the player.
Real Madrid's Raphael Varane, should he choose to leave in the summer, is tipped to be a priority target for Manchester United. His compatriot Jules Kounde of Sevilla FC has also attracted interest from the club, alongside Pau Torres of Villarreal CF and Gianluca Mancini of AS Roma.
Brighton & Hove Albion defender Ben White has also been tipped to be a potential target for Manchester United in recent weeks, as well as fellow English defender Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa.
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