Italian giants Napoli have made enquiries about the availability of United and Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly. The Italian club is interested in United’s number three as a direct replacement for Senegalese centre back Kalidou Koulibaly ahead of the player’s imminent move to Chelsea.According to Italian broadcaster Sportitalia, Bailly has emerged as a potential candidate ahead of Koulibaly’s switch to the Premier League.
Napoli have established first contacts with the Red Devils amidst serious interest in bringing the 28-year-old who has struggled for minutes at Old Trafford to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona this summer.
Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla has reported that Napoli has also been offered the chance to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milonkevic.
Milkenovic has been linked with a move to United in the past, although most of it appeared to be agent-driven. Serie A champions Inter Milan and Juventus are also said to be interested in Milenkovic ahead of Napoli, who prioritize a move for Bailly.
Earlier reports had indicated that the United hierarchy would be interested in listening to offers for the Ivorian as Erik ten Hag looks to work with a lean squad in his revolution at Old Trafford. This comes on the back of the defender signing a contract extension less than a year ago.
Bailly, who had an impressive display in the second half of United’s emphatic pre-season 4-0 against Liverpool in Bangkok, is, however, reportedly looking to fight for his place and cement his position in Ten Hag’s plans. Bailly has also been linked with a switch to newly-promoted Fulham.
The 28-year-old has been at United for six years, a significant part of which has been spent on the sidelines with nagging injuries. Bailly only made three appearances for the Red Devils last season, where he fell out of favour with both former manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
Both managers opted for center-back combinations consisting of world-cup winner Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, and club captain Harry Maguire. Many United fans were left baffled by Bailly’s lack of playing time, especially with United’s struggles in central defence last season. In total, the defender has made 113 appearances for United during his tenure in Manchester.
Bailly is currently with the rest of the squad on tour in Australia ahead of the team’s pre-season tour match commitments with Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, and Aston Villa.
Napoli’s negotiation team already has experience dealing with United, having completed a deal for Axel Tuanzebe who spent time with the Serie A outfit on loan from January last season.
With the rumoured imminent arrival of Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez, the writing may already be on the wall for Bailly.
The Serie A club is still yet to make any concrete move or offer for the Ivorian defender, who, as it stands, will still be heading into the next campaign as a United player.