Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has revealed that Manchester City showed serious interest in his services before he moved to Old Trafford.
The centre-back had announced himself as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders after his move to Villarreal in 2015.
Indeed, he was part of the side that reached the 2016 Europa League final, although he did not play in the triumph over Liverpool due to injury.
But that would not come to matter as, following his displays that season, United snapped him up.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, the 26-year-old has revealed how City also showed interest. However, it was then-Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho’s status which saw him reject a move to Pep Guardiola’s team.
“In the summer of 2016 there were many rumours,” Bailly said. “I was in Ivory Coast, in the dining room at home with my mother when the phone rang.
“It was a Portuguese number; Mourinho. He told me to come with him, that he liked me since he saw me with Espanyol and Villarreal.
“Manchester City were also interested, but if Mourinho calls you, you can’t say no.”
On links with Barcelona, Bailly added: “You can’t say no to Barca either. It just didn’t happen because the interest was not public or so explicit.”
Amid his rising status as a promising defensive talent, Bailly bred excitement among fans at Old Trafford. But injuries have blighted his progress and he has only made 89 appearances.
Indeed, he had knee surgery in July last year which ruled him out for a great deal of last season. Aside from that, he has suffered ankle problems and niggling muscle issues.
No regrets for Bailly
In fact, the Ivory Coast international is currently on the sidelines with a muscle problem.
But despite his lack of action, Bailly insisted that he does not regret making the move to Manchester.
“Wanting to play for United can never be a mistake. Not at all. It was a correct decision,” he said.
“Despite the fact that along the way I have had ups and downs, but I have always returned with determination.”