Manchester United: Eric Bailly the ideal centre-back partner for Harry Maguire, says Rio Ferdinand

Ivory Coast defender has impressed in recent outings for the Red Devils

Alex Pattle
Tuesday 05 January 2021 15:45 GMT
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Rio Ferdinand believes that Manchester United might have finally found the ideal centre-back partner for Harry Maguire in the shape of Eric Bailly.

Bailly arrived at Old Trafford in 2016, three years before Maguire became the world’s most expensive defender by joining United from Leicester, but injuries and inconsistent performances have seen the Ivory Coast centre-back struggle to stake his claim at the club.

Maguire, meanwhile, has played every single minute of every Premier League and Champions League game in which United have competed this season. That statistic follows the 27-year-old’s remarkable feat of playing 90 minutes in all 38 of his team’s top-flight matches last term.

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But the captain might, at last, have found a long-term partner in central defence, according to former United centre-back Ferdinand, who said Bailly has shown in recent, impressive performances that his attributes complement Maguire’s well.

“A big thing that has gone under the radar is Eric Bailly," Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel FIVE.

“He’s added a little bit of pace and steeliness to that back four. 

“My only issue with Eric Bailly has always been his fitness, he can never stay fit. He’s always injured or a game away from an injury, and that’s a problem. You don’t get that consistency of performance or get to know each other.

“I think Maguire needs pace next to him – he has other attributes, but pace isn’t one of them. In the modern game, to have two centre-backs who aren’t electric quick, you’ve got a problem.

“Bailly has good attributes, he’s quick and aggressive. If he can cut the silly mistakes out, which he had previously, and gets away from injuries and gets a clean bill of health, I think Manchester United are onto a good thing.”

United were 2-1 victors against Aston Villa in the Premier League in their last game, and following Liverpool’s defeat by Southampton on Monday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will go three points clear at the top of the Premier League if they win their game in hand.

The Red Devils next take on rivals Man City at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on Wednesday evening.

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