EPL

Solskjaer confirms talks underway with Bailly over new Man Utd contract

By Sports Desk March 12, 2021

Manchester United are in talks with Eric Bailly over a new contract, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

The centre-back, who played in his 100th game in all competitions for the Red Devils as they drew 1-1 with Milan in the Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday, sees his deal expire next year.

Bailly joined for a reported £30million from Villarreal in 2016, making him the club's first signing under Jose Mourinho, but persistent injury troubles mean he has started just 27 league matches in the past four seasons.

The Ivory Coast international, who turns 27 next month, has largely impressed when called upon this season, with United keeping eight clean sheets and conceding 12 goals in the 15 matches Bailly has played.

Indeed, since his debut in August 2016, United have won 65 per cent of matches with Bailly in the starting line-up compared with 53 per cent without him. They have also averaged more points per game (2.1 compared to 1.8) and fewer goals against (0.8 compared to 1.0).

Solskjaer is expected to pursue the signing of a new central defender in the transfer window but he appears keen to keep Bailly at the club regardless of potential incomings.

"We've started talking to Eric and Eric's representatives," Solskjaer said. "Eric's been keeping fitter for longer and you can see Eric's performances as well. I've been very happy with him.

"His playing style has sometimes made him lose too many games because 100 games is not enough for the period he's been here. He's getting more and more robust, so he's one we're talking to."

United host West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday hoping to build on last weekend's 2-0 derby win at Manchester City, while also moving nine points ahead of David Moyes' side in fifth.

While he accepts the gap to league leaders City is perhaps too big to bridge - Pep Guardiola's men are 14 points clear, having played a game more - Solskjaer is keen to strengthen the grip on second spot.

He is also happy not to have to face in-form Jesse Lingard, who has impressed on loan at the Hammers since his January move but is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Solskjaer said: "For Jesse, it's really worked out; for David [Moyes], it's really worked out. And for us as a club as well, because we know that Jesse's position is a 10 and we've got Bruno [Fernandes] there.

"For me, it was a no-brainer to get Jesse the chance to prove himself and play some football again. He's really been bright for them. He's finding back to himself.

"I think they've been brilliant. We played them in the FA Cup not long ago as well. We went to extra time, it was a tight, even game, he's got players who score goals, creative, defend really well, really difficult on set-plays, and David's done a tremendous job that we know he's capable of.

"We're very happy for him and we know this is a big game for us. It's maybe too far ahead to City, so we need to consolidate our place in the top two or three, hopefully."

United have something of an injury crisis for the match. Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata may not be fit before the international break in the final two weeks of March, while goalkeeper David de Gea may still need to quarantine for a few more days after returning from Spain following the birth of his daughter.

Forwards Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani are also unlikely to be fit, meaning 18-year-old Amad Diallo, who scored his first goal for the club as a substitute against Milan, could be called upon again.

"It's a big change for him, he's moved over here by himself but he's coming into training every day, he's working really hard, he knows he's got a lot to learn," Solskjaer added.

"He's an exciting talent, of course, but he'll have to get used to the tempo and the quality of the level he's playing at now.

"He didn't play much for Atalanta, either, so we're gradually giving him more and more, but he's been hungry to learn. His appetite in training has been spot on."

Related items

  • Keegan Bradley putts his way to first round lead at the BMW Championship Keegan Bradley putts his way to first round lead at the BMW Championship

    Keegan Bradley rode a hot putter to the outright lead after 18 holes of the BMW Championship, finishing Thursday's play with a seven-under 64.

    Bradley entered the week ranked 44th in the FedEx Cup standings, outside the top-30 who will qualify for next week's Tour Championship, but put himself in a great position thanks in large part to his work on the greens.

    He collected six birdies on the front nine, and according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats, Bradley was the top overall putter in the opening round, picking up 4.00 strokes with the flat stick, while also coming in seventh in the approach category (2.02 strokes gained).

    It was a similar story for Adam Scott in outright second at six under, finishing third in putting (3.30 strokes gained) and 11th in approach shots (1.82 strokes gained).

    In a tie for third at five under is the trio of Harold Varner III, Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas – but they all made it there in different ways.

    Varner excelled in the tee-to-green category, putting a gap on the field as he gained 5.28 strokes, with Lowry in second-place at 3.32. While Varner was the third-best driver on the day, Lowry was actually a negative off the tee, but led the field in the approach category.

    Meanwhile, Thomas was solid just about everywhere, finishing on the fringe of the top-10 in tee-to-green, around the green and putting categories – despite lipping out a four-footer for his only bogey on the 15th hole.

    The logjam at four under includes Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Young, and there is a star-studded group one further back at three under featuring Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. McIlroy will be left ruing a calamitous showing at the par-three 15th hole, where he found the water to triple-bogey when he was one stroke off the lead.

    U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick headlines the group at two under, Hideki Matsuyama and Will Zalatoris are at one under, and recent 20-year-old winner Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim is at even par.

    Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm will be disappointed with their rounds at two over, and the previously red-hot Tony Finau is likely out of the hunt as only two players shot worse than his six-over 77.

  • Ajax defender Timber ends transfer speculation with new contract through 2025 Ajax defender Timber ends transfer speculation with new contract through 2025

    After plenty of transfer speculation, Ajax have decided to lock up 21-year-old defender Jurrien Timber on an improved contract, adding one extra year to tie him to the club through 2025.

    Timber, who already has eight international caps for the Netherlands, has been with Ajax since 2014, and tallied 50 Eredivisie appearances across the past two seasons, netting four goals.

    He was one of three Ajax players that Manchester United and former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag showed strong interest in, having secured Lisandro Martinez and being priced out of a move for Antony.

    Timber was the recipient of last season's Marco van Basten Award for AFC Ajax Talent of the Year, following in the footsteps of recent winners Ryan Gravenberch, Sergino Dest and Matthijs de Ligt, who all proceeded to leave the Eredivisie in search of bigger challenges.

    He will be 24 when his new contract expires, and he will have another chance to impress in the European spotlight this season during Ajax's Champions League campaign.

  • West Ham 3-1 Viborg: Scamacca opens account as Hammers take command of ECL play-off tie West Ham 3-1 Viborg: Scamacca opens account as Hammers take command of ECL play-off tie

    Gianluca Scamacca scored his first West Ham goal as the Hammers established a commanding 3-1 lead over Viborg in the first leg of their Europa Conference League play-off clash.

    Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio were also on target for the hosts at the London Stadium, with Jakob Bonde's header providing a consolation for the visitors ahead of next week's return leg in Denmark.

    The Hammers' fortunes were overseen by first-team coach Billy McKinlay, with manager David Moyes serving a touchline ban following his red card in last season's Europa League semi-final defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt.

    Vladimir Coufal wore the captain's armband in the absence of Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell – both also serving continental suspensions – but the hosts took the lead in the 24th minute; Scamacca rising to head home Maxwel Cornet's inviting cross.

    They doubled their lead after 64 minutes as Bowen collected a loose ball, before brilliantly drilling low past Lucas Lund from 30 yards. The visitors halved the deficit five minutes later when Bonde arrived at the far post to nod home Christian Sorensen's centre.

    But substitutes Antonio and Said Benrahma combined to restore the hosts' two-goal buffer in the 78th minute. Benrahma embarked on a jinking run from the left flank, before squaring for Antonio to tuck into the empty net.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.