Bailly making progress
Eric Bailly expects to receive the go-ahead this week to remove the leg brace he had fitted following his recent knee surgery.
The Manchester United defender suffered a medial ligament tear during pre-season playing against Tottenham Hotspur in July, catching his studs in the surface under no pressure.
Bailly’s operation went well and he has since been waiting for the signal to step up the early stages of his rehabilitation programme, with the Red Devils hoping he can return shortly after the busy Christmas churn of fixtures.
United insiders are confident the Ivory Coast international will make a full recovery and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has recently spoken to the player to keep his spirits up.
Bailly is out of contract next year but bosses at Old Trafford are ready to trigger their option of a further two years to ensure he is not able to walk away next summer for free.
The 25-year-old, however, remains unsettled and was likely to be sold this summer if he had not suffered his latest injury setback, a recurring theme of his time at United since his £30m arrival from Villarreal in 2016.
The tough central defender has made a total of just 79 appearances in three years and spent the best past of half of that time on the treatment table.
Bailly wants to be back playing as soon as possible and is aware of a long-standing interest from Arsenal manager Unai Emery, which could yet see the Gunners try their luck again this January if he is able to prove his fitness.
United would still want to recoup most of their original outlay despite his well-documented injuries, although club insiders have hinted a figure of around £18m would be enough for Bailly’s admirers to cement a deal.
The one positive for the Ivory Coast stopper and any potential new employer is that the best years of his career should be ahead of Bailly and the fact he has missed so much action means he still has fresh legs.
He was also not overused at Villarreal, making 35 La Liga appearances between January 2015 and moving to the Theatre of Dreams.
Solskjaer’s policy of bringing down the average age of the squad will not affect the African and it could be that he has a long career ahead of him in Manchester.
Much will depend on the way his body reacts after he starts working once again and a fit and firing Bailly would certainly aid United’s cause in what may be a testing campaign.
Neil Foster is an experienced journalist who specialises in cricket and rugby union. Neil also has a solid knowledge of tennis, golf and football.