Manchester United have confirmed the signing of centre-back Eric Bailly for a fee understood to be in the region of £30m.
The 22-year-old joins on a four-year contract from Villarreal having flown into Manchester last night for a medical.
The defender, who made a big impression in La Liga last season, is the first signing since Jose Mourinho was announced as the new manager of the club.
Bailly said of his move: "It is a dream come true to be joining Manchester United. To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do. I want to progress to be the best that I can be and I believe working with José Mourinho will help me develop in the right way and at the right club. I am looking forward to meeting my new team mates and to starting this new chapter of my life.”
Mourinho said: “Eric is a young central defender with great natural talent. He has progressed well to date and has the potential to become one of the best around. We look forward to working with him to help nurture that raw talent and fulfil his potential. Eric is at the right club to continue his development.”
The Ivorian central defender has made 15 appearances for his country and was part of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winning team, having appeared in all six matches during the competition. He emerged as one of the most sought-after defenders in La Liga after impressing at Villarreal after arriving at El Madrigal from Espanyol in a £4.4m deal in January 2015.
Barcelona, looking to replace Juventus-bound Javier Mascherano at the heart of their defence, had also been tracking Bailly.
The Independent understands that Mourinho is targeting signings that will reinvigorate the spine of the team and having secured a centre-back will now look further up the pitch. Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is his top priority while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also expected to sign having agreed personal terms already.
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