Manchester United have suffered a serious blow after deciding against buying a new centre-back during the summer transfer window, after Eric Bailly suffered a hamstring injury while on international duty.
Bailly was taken off after an hour in the Ivory Coast’s 1-1 draw with Belgium on Thursday night.
The centre-back was playing on the right-hand-side of a three-man defence in the draw, and suffered the injury ten minutes after Belgium had taken the lead through Michy Batshuayi.
He appeared to suffer the injury while running, and immediately sat down and was treated by the physio team.
Bailly was taken off and replaced by Odilon Kossounou, and initial fears are that he suffered a hamstring injury.
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After the game, Bailly reassured fans that the injury wasn’t too bad, and appeared to indicate he wouldn’t miss too much game time.
He posted: “Thank you for caring about me, but I’m fine, just tired. Good night and may God protect us all.”
If Bailly does have to miss any game time, it will give further fuel to the critics who claim United should have signed a centre-back this summer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was said to be eager to bring in some defensive reinforcements this summer, but ended up making left-back Alex Telles his only defensive signing.
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Bailly started United’s most recent game, putting in a disappointing performance as the Red Devils were thumped 6-1 by Tottenham at Old Trafford.
That was the 27-year-old’s only start in the Premier League this season, having missed the majority of last season through knee surgery.
His injury history, coupled by United’s lack of strength in depth in the position, led many to believe United chiefs should focus their attention on a new centre-back this summer.
Instead, they let Chris Smalling leave the club for Roma in a deal worth £13million, and failed to bring in a new first-team centre-back.
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Solskjaer was apparently eager to sign Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig this summer, and had made the defender one of his top targets.
But now, it appears they could miss out on him completely, with Liverpool apparently ready to make a bid next summer.
Reports claim the Reds have discovered a £36.5m release clause in the 21-year-old’s contract, and are willing to bid in a year’s time.
Manchester City and United are also said to be interested, though the former’s acquisitions of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake will likely put them out of the running.
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