Former Manchester City and Liverpool centre-back Kolo Toure believes Eric Bailly can become one of the best defenders in the world at Manchester United.
Bailly, who came to Old Trafford in June, has established himself as Jose Mourinho’s strongest new recruit after enjoying a sensational start to his career in England.
Toure and Bailly, despite being at opposite ends of their respective international careers, formed a formidable centre-back partnership for the Ivory Coast at the 2015 African Cup of Nations, ending up as winners after beating Ghana in the final.
Speaking to Tribal Football, the 35-year-old was full of praise for his fellow countryman.
“He’s a really composed boy who knows what he’s here for. He’s here to play football and he’s really enjoying his time in Manchester with his family,” he said.
“You can tell that just from the way he’s playing. He’s enjoying the games, enjoying the city and he’s a really good boy. He’s tall, technically very good, has brilliant vision and he’s really calm.
“That calmness is the most powerful skill he’s got. We are all proud of him. We knew before he came that he has great quality because he was playing with Villarreal. But it takes a lot to come to a big club like United and do what he’s doing right now. He can be a big, big player for United.
“He can be the future for United. What he’s doing right now is amazing and I think his future is really, really bright. He can be up there with the top defenders United have had.
“He’s young and will learn from working with one of the best managers in the world. He can become one of the best defenders in the world.”
In a season that has already produced dizzy highs and despairing lows, Bailly has been a constant, powerful presence at the back. The 22-year-old has featured in all but one game, displaying an old-school form of prowess at the back.
He is, in many ways, the antithesis of today’s archetypal defender – an example being the notoriously technically gifted John Stones, or perhaps the polymathic David Luiz. Bailly, on the other hand, would look right at home in the 1970s, kicking lumps out of strikers and throwing his head at anything above knee height.
Unsurprisingly, United fans have quickly warmed to the defender, and will hope to see the Ivorian develop into an even more menacing force at the back in the coming years.