When Erik ten Hag took over as the new Manchester United manager, he had a bloated squad with many positions requiring an influx of quality while a handful of players needed shipping.
The Dutchman did it tactfully, allowing all his players a fair chance to impress before he took a call. Five permanent signings were made in the summer transfer window to plug multiple gaps in the squad.
Post pre-season, the Dutch boss decided to allow certain players, who were surplus to requirements, to leave.
Eric Bailly‘s injury woes
Among those players was fan-favourite Eric Bailly, who sealed a loan move to Marseille, with the French club having the option of making the move permanent.
His defensive qualities were never in doubt, but his poor injury-record meant he never could play regularly and build momentum.
And those problems have resurfaced even during his stint at the French giants, with the Ivory Coast international missing six games out of 20 due to injury while having to remain on the bench for a further three games.
At this rate, it does not look likely that the former Villareal man can fulfill the quota of playing more than 50% of games for his new club.
🔹L'option d'achat d'Eric Bailly 🇨🇮 stipule qu'il doit participer à plus de 50% des matchs de l'OM pour qu'elle soit levé. Actuellement, il a fait seulement sa 5e apparition en Ligue 1. (@lequipe) #TeamOM pic.twitter.com/bbGbSTC6ax
— Infos OM (@InfosOM_) January 1, 2023
According to La Provence (via Sport Witness), Bailly was put on a specific training plan during the World Cup break in a bid to ensure his injury problems did not return in the second-half of the season.
His former Ivory Coast manager Patrice Beaumelle has since revealed that if injury-free, the United loanee can become the world’s best defender.
Bailly’s new fitness routine could pay dividends
“If he isn’t bothered by muscular issues, he is, for me, one of the best defenders in the world. An exceptional player.
“He showcases a monstrous power, an ease, he’s really quick, he’s hard in the challenge, always in the right place. He has everything.
“However, he’s always bothered by these little issues and everyone is reserved about him. We know he has everything, but we want to see it. If he manages to play a month non-stop, we’ll be able to see him at his highest level.”
For United’s sake, they will be hoping that Bailly can remain injury-free as if he plays a certain number of games, his buy clause will automatically be triggered and United can receive a decent transfer fee.
While fans were sad to see him go initially, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane taking charge of the defence, the Red Devils are in a much better position as compared to previous seasons.
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