Rio Ferdinand has revealed his ideal centre back partner for Harry Maguire.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is of the opinion that Ivorian Eric Bailly is the perfect man to partner Maguire in defence and claims that United are “onto a good thing” with the 26-year-old.
Bailly has been a mixed bag during his time at Old Trafford since his £30m transfer from Villareal in 2016.
The Ivory Coast international helped the Red Devils to a Europa League and League Cup double in his first season but has struggled with injuries ever since.
Last season, he mustered a meagre four league appearances and fell behind Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the pecking order.
The block ⛔
The clearance 🦵
The celebration right at the end 😅
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 5, 2021
However, since his return to the starting XI this season, Bailly has enjoyed a resurgence in his career.
Solskjaer picked the 26-year-old in his line-up in each of United’s last four games across all competitions and the Ivorian has responded in style.
Bailly’s importance to his side was underlined when his last-minute block prevented Aston Villa from scoring an equaliser in their previous game. After the final whistle, he ended being mobbed by his grateful teammates.
As such. Ferdinand is in no doubt that Bailly possesses all the qualities required to slot in alongside Maguire for the long term but remains sceptical over his fitness.
“A big thing that has gone under the radar is Eric Bailly,” the United legend said on his YouTube channel FIVE.
“He’s added a little bit of pace and steeliness to that back four. My only issue with Eric Bailly has always been his fitness, he can never stay fit.
“He’s always injured or a game away from an injury, and that’s a problem. You don’t get that consistency of performance or get to know each other.
“I think Maguire needs pace next to him, he has other attributes but pace isn’t one of them. In the modern game, to have two centre-backs who aren’t electric quick, you’ve got a problem.
“Bailly has good attributes, he’s quick and aggressive. If he can cut the silly mistakes out which he had previously and gets away from injuries and gets a clean bill of health, I think Manchester United are onto a good thing.”
ON THIS DAY: In 2006, Manchester United signed Nemanja Vidić for £7m.
◉ 211 games
◉ 149 wins
◉ 5x Premier League winner
He has the highest Premier League win percentage (70.6%) of any centre-backs to make at least 100 appearances in the competition. pic.twitter.com/N7c1WID5cT
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 5, 2021
Man United’s title hopes.
Ferdinand also spoke of his former side’s chances as potential title contenders.
“Whenever I spoke about Man United, the first thing I always said was we weren’t lacking quality, personalities or the right type of characters, it was simply a lack of consistency, we didn’t have it,” he said.
“We all know [Paul] Pogba, [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial and [Mason] Greenwood can be top players on their day. But were we doing it as collective on a consistent basis?
“The only way to win titles is if you have that word in your armoury: consistency. Last ten games, what they’ve done has been fantastic. It’s title-winning form. They’ve got to continue that.”