There seems to be a purpose and plan behind Manchester United’s transfer policy this summer. None of these last minute desperate deals that marked the David Moyes and Louis van Gaal era’s.
United have already wrapped up former PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimović and have reportedly completed a £30m deal for Villarreal’s highly-rated centre-back Eric Bailly.
The 22-year-old has been monitored closely by Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Arsenal in recent seasons but United have moved quickly to sign him.
United are expected to pay £18m up front with £12m in bonus payments. That is a huge profit for Villarreal, who paid only £4m for the defender in 2104 when they signed him from Espanyol.
A source told the Mirror that Bailly is not willing to turn down an opportunity to sign for United.
“As a boy everyone knows clubs like Manchester United and this will be realisation of a dream for Eric. These are things that you cannot say no to, and Villarreal know that.”
Bailly was brought in by Villarreal to replace Gabriel Paulista when he moved to Arsenal, and his pace and strength make him far more suited to the rigors of the Premier League than Gabriel.
He was the key man in a Villarreal defence that kept 17 clean sheets in La Liga this season to secure fourth place as best of the rest behind champions Barcelona and Champions League finalists Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Bailly’s displays in the big games will have particularly impressed Mourinho. Villarreal were the only team to shut out Atletico twice over the campaign with Bailly at the forefront of both their 1-0 win at home and a 0-0 stalemate at the Vicente Calderon.
However, his standout display in a yellow shirt came against the newly crowned European champions in the match widely seen as that which sealed Rafael Benitez’s fate in his short-lived reign as Real Madrid boss.
Again Bailly was brilliant and showed his versatility as he was deployed at right back to mark Cristiano Ronaldo and latterly Gareth Bale out the game despite suffering from a dislocated shoulder for much of the second-half as Villarreal ran out 1-0 winners.
It was no coincidence that he was absent as Villarreal’s hopes of reaching a first ever European final were dashed as Liverpool ran riot in the second-leg of their Europa League semi-final last month.
Marcelino’s men had kept five clean sheets in the seven European games Bailly played on their run to the last four, including a 1-0 win over the reds before he pulled up with a hamstring injury late on which ruled him out of the return-leg.
United have been linked with Everton defender John Stones but with Everton wanting over £50m for the defender, it looks like Mourinho went with the cheaper, and easier to sign Bailly.