Marseille seal loan deal for Man Utd outcast Eric Bailly with cut-price permanent option

Man Utd centre-back Eric Bailly

Manchester United say the “will be following his progress closely” after defender Eric Bailly joined French side Marseille on loan for the rest of the season.

As part of the deal there will be the “possibility” of the Ligue 1 side making it permanent at the end of the campaign. According to The Telegraph, OM have a £5m option to purchase the Ivory Coast defender if they qualify for the Champions League.

But Bailly will also have to make a certain amount of appearances to trigger that deal. A potential deal at £5m will mean a huge loss on the 28-year-old.

Bailly was pictured in Marseille on Wednesday and underwent a medical before signing the relevant paperwork

The defender will be asked to fill the void left by Arsenal ace William Saliba. Saliba was a huge hit for OM last season on loan, but Mikel Arteta has chosen to keep the Frenchman around this season and he has been a revelation at centre-back.

Bailly arrived from Villarreal in 2016 for £30m, but injuries have meant he never became a first-team regular. He has featured 113 times, but he only made seven appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last season.

And the arrival of Lisandro Martinez saw Bailly move further down the pecking order.

Bailly could kickstart exodus

“The summer signing of Lisandro Martinez has only increased the competition in the centre-back position, with Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane among the names at Erik ten Hag’s disposal,” read the club’s statement.

“A popular member of the United squad, Eric has our best wishes for the campaign to come. And we will be following his progress closely.”

Bailly could be the first of a number of defensive departures in the final week of the window.

Alex Telles has already moved out on loan. The left-back joined Sevilla on a season-long loan at the start of the month.

And Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could all follow him.

United are willing to listen to offers for all four, although a loan maybe more realistic for Wan-Bissaka.

Crystal Palace are understood to be keen on being reunited with their former defender.