Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has confirmed that he picked the Old Trafford club over their cross-city rivals because of a phone call from Jose Mourinho.
The Ivory Coast international joined Man United in 2016 as Mourinho’s first transfer at the Premier League side.
However, four years on, Bailly has now revealed that Manchester City were also interested in signing him when he was still a player at Villarreal.
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Speaking to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Bailly said: “In the summer of 2016 there were many rumours.
“I was in Ivory Coast, in the dining room at home with my mother when the phone rang. It was a Portuguese number; Mourinho.
“He told me to come with him, that he liked me since he saw me with Espanyol and Villarreal.
“Manchester City were also interested, but if Mourinho calls you, you can’t say no. You can’t say no to Barca either.
“It just didn’t happen because the interest was not public or so explicit.”
The 26-year-old defender has made over 56 appearances for the Premier League side since joining four years ago, yet a bad knee injury last summer has limited Bailly’s game time over the past 18 months.
Despite that, the defender remains confident of getting back into the United team and has full confidence in Mourinho’s successor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“We have known how to overcome adversity because the dressing room is with Solskjaer,” said Bailly.
“He is a close guy who has a good relationship with everyone and understands the codes of the football player.
“At the back, he [Solskjaer] asks for concentration and more character. There are small mistakes that have been avoided.
“We need to pay more attention to plays that seem of little danger and that end up costing us too much.”