Liverpool legend and BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson is confident that new Manchester United signing Eric Bailly will be a “top player” someday.
Bailly, 22, joined Man United from Villarreal this week in a deal said to be worth around £30m to become Jose Mourinho’s first signing at Old Trafford.
The Ivorian has played just 46 professional matches so far in his career and not much is known about him. But Lawrenson defended Bailly’s price tag, comparing it to the valuation of Everton’s John Stones, at a rumoured £50m.
“I think he’s got a real chance of being a top player eventually,” Lawrenson said.
“We saw him that night at Villarreal versus Liverpool. He missed the second-leg with a hamstring injury. You talk about the fee but what’s [John] Stones going to go for? And this is a guy who has generally made a mistake every two or three games in the Premier League.
“The fella Bailly – the great thing about him is that he’s got a great physique; he is lightning, lightning quick. So, in that position, it allows you to make a mistake but to get that mistake back. I don’t see any problems. He is very physical, and if you sign a centre-back for the Premier League he has to be physical.”
Bailly is certainly an unknown quantity but Mourinho has proven over the course of his career that he knows how to build defences and supporters should have no reason to be worried.
Daley Blind played in central defence during the 2015/16 season but it is clear that he is not a natural defender. Bringing Bailly in is a step in the right direction as United look to reestablish themselves among Europe’s elite.