Arsenal and Tottenham Reportedly Make Eric Bailly Transfer Enquiries

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Eric Bailly of Manchester United inaction during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on October 2, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly made enquiries to Manchester United regarding their out of favour centre-back Eric Bailly.

According to Duncan Castles of the Daily Record, both clubs have asked about the availability of the defender following his fall down the pecking order at Old Trafford this season.

"Bailly's situation is complicated by United's long-standing defensive issues, with Jose Mourinho continuing to press the Old Trafford board to recruit a centre-back with the calibre, experience and personality to martial the team's back line," Castles wrote. "According to a club source, Mourinho has proposed a move for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly."

It's added that United are not keen to sell Bailly, having turned down some advances for him in the summer. According to Castles the club have "held to that position since."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United with Eric Bailly after taking him off in the first half during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on October 6, 2018 in Man
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Mourinho is said to be reluctant to let Bailly, who was the first player he signed upon taking the United job in 2016, leave the club as the coach believes he has the qualities to be an excellent centre-back.

Castles also reported United are willing to let both Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones move on, although both players turned down the chance to leave ahead of the current campaign.

While he was excellent in his initial months as a United player, Bailly has struggled since. His stock is lower than it's ever been with the Red Devils, as he's not played for the club since October 6 when he was substituted after a disastrous 19 minutes against Newcastle United that saw the Red Devils trail 2-0 at home.

Rob Dawson of ESPN FC summed up just how far down the pecking order the Ivorian appears to have fallen in the early months of the campaign:

Rob Dawson @RobDawsonESPN

Eric Bailly travelled with the team to Bournemouth yesterday but isn't in the squad today. Jones, who hasn't been in the squad for the last six games, on the bench instead.

When he was at his best, Bailly's signing from Villarreal looked like something of a masterstroke from Mourinho. The Ivorian appeared to relish the physicality of English football and rarely lost battles with forwards. He is also the quickest of United's centre-backs and distributed the ball well.

However, injuries and a loss of form meant Mourinho explored other options, and since then Bailly has not had a significant run in the team, making just 17 appearances in the 2017-18 season. He's struggled when given chances this term too, with the performances against Newcastle and Brighton & Hove Albion, in a 3-2 defeat, especially poor.

As noted by football journalist Leanne Prescott, at times Mourinho has made some drastic moves instead of using Bailly:

Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne

Mourinho signed Bailly & Lindelof for a combined £60m+ & currently has Matic and Pogba in his back three, having lamented his defenders for their inability to play out from the back. A prime example of how United have failed to invest their money wisely.

Tottenham have options in defence, although Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez are currently sidelined with injuries. According to Castles, Spurs are open to the idea of selling Toby Alderweireld, meaning a spot may open up alongside Vertonghen, Sanchez and Juan Foyth.

Arsenal signed Sokratis Papastathopoulos to bolster their defensive options in the summer. They also have Rob Holding and the erratic Shkodran Mustafi, while Laurent Koscielny is still recovering from a ruptured Achilles.