Manchester United have sealed a deal to sign Villarreal centre-back Eric Bailly subject to a work permit, the club have confirmed.
Bailly is the club’s first signing under new manager Jose Mourinho and reportedly cost £30million, agreeing a four-year deal with an option to extend for a further two years.
The 22-year-old Ivory Coast international helped his country to win the Africa Cup of Nations in February 2015, just a month after making his national team debut.
The defender joined Villarreal in January 2015 from Espanyol, where he came through the youth system before making his first senior appearance in 2014.
“It is a dream come true to be joining Manchester United,” Bailly said in a statement.
“To play football at the highest level is all I have ever wanted to do. I want to progress 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.”
While United were solid at the back under former manager Louis van Gaal last season, Mourinho has moved quickly to address any defensive deficiencies.
Daley Blind was frequently required to deputise at centre-back in the last two campaigns and reports suggest Mourinho will allow the Netherlands international to leave during the transfer window.
Marcos Rojo has not reached the level he demonstrated in helping Argentina reach the 2014 World Cup final, while Phil Jones has struggled for both form and fitness, leaving a vacancy to partner England’s Chris Smalling in the middle.
“Eric is a young central defender with great natural talent,” Mourinho said.
“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.”
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