Eric Bailly produced an imperious display at the back during Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday night.
The Ivorian brushed off any fibre of intensity from the home side with ease, confidently and assuredly dealing with anything that came his way alongside Chris Smalling.
His stats tell the story of a dominant, composed display: 6 interceptions, 7 clearances, 100% tackles won, 100% aerial duels won.
It was initially feared that Bailly – just 22, arriving in Manchester after just one solid season in Spain (a comparatively less physically imposing environment) – would struggle under Jose Mourinho, perhaps overawed by the sheer speed and intensity of English football.
Coming into the Liverpool game, however, Bailly – with eight appearances to his name – had passed every test laid before him. The game against an in-form Jurgen Klopp side, in a ferocious atmosphere, promised to serve as his biggest test. Needless to say, the 22-year-old dealt with Liverpool’s front-men in glorious fashion. He comes across less as a manufactured product of a crazy, Frankensteinien scientist, determined to build a specimen that does nothing but defend, defend, defend and defend some more.
True class, especially with centre-backs, manifests itself in continuity, in displaying the same level of strength and composure every game. This, as demonstrated once again today, is fast becoming the most apparent of Bailly’s traits.