Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has tipped new signing Eric Bailly to become one of the world’s leading centre-backs after he was confirmed as the Portuguese’s first Old Trafford recruit.
The 22-year-old Ivory Coast centre-half has joined United on a four-year contract, subject to obtaining a work permit, from La Liga outfit Villarreal for a fee in the region of £30m.
Bailly has only chalked up 40 top-flight matches during his fledgling professional career, although Mourinho, who replaced the axed Louis van Gaal last month, believes he has immeasurable quality.
“Eric is a young central defender with great natural talent,” said Mourinho. “He has progressed well to date and has the potential to become one of the best around.
“We look forward to working with him to help nurture that raw talent and fulfil his potential. Eric is at the right club to continue his development.”
Bailly had been linked with a move to United’s neighbours Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, although the opportunity to work with Mourinho appears to have chimed with the former Espanyol defender.
“It’s a dream come true to be joining Manchester United,” said Bailly. “To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do.
“I want to progress and to be the best that I can be and I believe working with Jose Mourinho will help me develop in the right way and at the right club.
“I am looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to starting this new chapter of my life.”