Ex-Man Utd flop in talks over sensational return

Tom Weber
Tom Weber
  • Updated: 22 Dec 2023 13:38 GMT
  • 3 min read
‘If Mourinho calls you, you can’t say no’ – why Bailly picked Man Utd over Man City
© ProShots

Eric Bailly could be on his way back to Villarreal after being banished from Besiktas' first team.

The Ivorian defender finally departed Manchester United in the summer, going down in club history as one of the biggest flop signings ever made. The Red Devils had snapped up Bailly in 2016 for a whopping €38 million off the back of just one good season with Villarreal and they would go on to pay the price for their rash decision.

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The 29-year-old only really enjoyed one solid campaign at Old Trafford, with the rest of his time at the club marred by underperformance and mediocrity. In 2018, his Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) peaked at €17m - still €21m short of what United had paid for him - and it has declined ever since, now standing at just €1.5m.

Bailly spent last season out on loan at Marseille before leaving for Besiktas in the summer on a free transfer. However, just a few months on from his arrival, he could be on the move again.

Eric Bailly at Villarreal
© ProShots - Eric Bailly at Villarreal

Villarreal eye Bailly

That's because Bailly was one of five Besiktas players to be banished from the first team in the wake of a derby loss to Fenerbahce. His agent, Rafaela Pimenta, was outraged by the decision and vowed to take action, with the Ivorian looking for a way out of Turkey.

According to Radio Castellon, and confirmed by Fabrizio Romano, this has attracted the attention of Bailly's former club Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine are looking for defensive reinforcements for January after shipping a whopping 35 goals in 18 LaLiga games so far this term, which leaves them just six points off the relegation zone and boasting the third-worst defence in the division.

At Villarreal, Bailly would be reunited with coach Marcelino, who recently returned to the club after leaving Marseille mere weeks into the new season. Under Marcelino, Bailly enjoyed that good season that prompted United to sign him. At this stage, however, talks are still ongoing and nothing has been agreed thus far.

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