Eric Bailly is set to be a key player for Manchester United as they target a place in the Europa League final
Friday Dec 22, 2017. 19:00
With this set to be the last PLAYER SPOTLIGHT of 2017 focusing on Eric Bailly, let’s take a look back at the Ivory Coast defender’s year.
Bailly’s 2017 began on a disappointing note as the Ivory Coast national team slumped to a first-round exit at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
The Elephants were the defending champions of the competition, but a failure to win any of their group matches against Togo, DR Congo and Morocco saw them relinquish their title before the knockout rounds.
Unfortunately that was a sign of things to come for Bailly and his national team for the remainder of 2017, as they failed to qualify for a fourth successive World Cup.
The Elephants finished second in a 2018 qualifier Group C behind Morocco - led by former coach Herve Renard - with the decisive result a 2-0 home loss at the hands of the North Africans in Abidjan last month. Bailly missed the match through injury.
And it wasn’t the only major match Bailly missed this year, with the defender having to watch from the sidelines in May when Manchester United won the UEFA Europa League with a 2-0 victory over Ajax in the final - the Ivorian was suspended for the match after being sent off in the semis.
There have been some high points for the defender, most notably when he made his UEFA Champions League debut in late September as United beat CSKA Moscow in a group stage clash.
Yet the final couple of months of 2017 have been frustrating for the 23-year-old, who hasn’t features since playing against Chelsea in early November. This is due to an ankle injury sustained on international duty, and Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that the player may need surgery to rectify the issue.
Bailly’s first aim for 2018 will be to recover form and fitness and re-establish himself in the Man United line-up.